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Biden acknowledges federal efforts to expand ‘clearly not enough’ COVID testing

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Biden acknowledges federal efforts to expand ‘clearly not enough’ COVID testing

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President Joe Biden admitted on Monday that his administration had not done enough to speed up COVID-19 testing across the country, after appearing in defense a week earlier in response to questions about the lack of testing facing the rapidly spreading omicron variant.

During a call with many governors across the country and his COVID-19 response team, Biden acknowledged the shortage of tests affecting states. The president explained how the country went from having no over-the-counter tests in January – when he took office – to 46 million in October, 100 million in November and nearly 200 million in December.

“But that’s clearly not enough. If we had known, we would have gone stronger, faster if we could, ”Biden said. “We have to do more, we have to do better, and we will. … Seeing how difficult it was for some people to take a test this weekend shows that we still have work to do.

Biden added that the administration has also worked with Google “so you can now search ‘COVID test near me’ to find one,” and reaffirmed that the federal government is giving out 500 million rapid home tests to Americans for free. who want one. He also said the administration would continue to use the Defense Production Act to produce more tests.

Biden’s message on Monday was a stark contrast to last week in response to the nation’s shortage of COVID-19 tests. When asked by a reporter what his message was to Americans who couldn’t get tested and wondering what had taken so long to escalate the response, Biden replied, “Come on, what’s wrong? took so long? “

“Well, what took so long was that – it didn’t take long at all. What happened was the omicron [variant] spread even faster than anyone thought, ”he said.

“If I had told you four weeks ago that it would spread from – day to day it would spread 50, 100%, 200%, 500%, I think you would have looked at me and told me : “Biden, what are you drinking? ‘ But that’s what he did, “he continued.” Now we don’t know what’s going to happen from here on out. … But I know we’re not going to be able , like I said when we remember we had a problem with masks and gowns etc. I said, ‘I promise you’.

The change in response comes after a Dec. 23 report from Vanity Fair revealed that the Biden administration this fall rejected a plan to speed up pre-holiday testing. A group of COVID-19 testing experts presented a strategy on October 22 to the administration that called for producing approximately 732 million tests per month and distributing them free to Americans, according to a 10-page plan the publication got.

On December 22, Biden told ABC News’s David Muir he wished he “had thought of ordering” 500 million home tests “two months ago” – but the plan according to Vanity Fair was presented to the administration in October did just that.

The testing experts who laid out the strategy were told by the White House just days after the proposal that their plan was dead, according to the publication. On the same day, the administration instead announced an initiative to speed up rapid home testing through the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory approval process.

Asked about the report on Monday, Biden said his administration “did not reject” the plan.


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