A new report from Vanity Fair claims President Joe Biden and his administration rejected a proposal from scientists and health experts earlier this year to ramp up production of rapid tests for COVID-19 ahead of what has become the latest surge in cases of the disease.
The development comes as the nation experiences a shortage of tests — one that left many Americans anxious going into the holiday season.
Now, the White House is facing heavy pushback for waiting this long to increase the manufacturing of the tests.
President Biden announced last week that he would make some 500 million coronavirus tests available free to the American public, but they won’t be ready for weeks, as The New York Times notes.
“Playing small ball”
In its report, Vanity Fair alleged that the Biden administration was approached in October by a coalition of experts and public health groups with a comprehensive plan to manufacture upwards of 732 million rapid at-home COVID-19 tests per month.
But the White House reportedly killed that proposal due to concerns about manufacturing capabilities, and instead focused on obtaining regulatory approval for more varieties of rapid at-home tests, rather than ramping up production of kits that had already gotten the stamp of approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“The White House, in baseball terms, was playing small ball,” Dr. Steven Phillips, a member of the collaborative effort that was rejected, explained to Vanity Fair. “When it comes to rapid testing, they’re bunting the players along.”
“We should have known”
Just prior to the release of Vanity Fair‘s report, President Biden expressed regret about his failure to act sooner to increase production of rapid at-home COVID-19 tests.
During an interview with David Muir of ABC News, Biden was asked if the current shortage of test kits amounts to a “failure.”
“I don’t think it’s a failure,” Biden said. “I think it’s — you could argue that we should have known a year ago, six months ago, two months ago, a month ago.”
But Biden also said he wished he’d moved sooner. “I’ve ordered half a billion of the…test kits that are going to be available to be sent to every home in America if anybody wants them,” the president said, according to CNBC. “But the answer is, yeah, I wish I had thought about ordering a half a billion [tests] two months ago, before COVID hit here.”
Yet again, it looks like Biden dropped the ball — and it’s the American people who will suffer because of it.