Despite its insistence that the Omicron coronavirus variant poses a serious risk to Americans this holiday season and a recent vow to boost testing capacity, it has been revealed that the Biden administration actually declined a proposal to massively increase the availability of COVID-19 test kits ahead of the current surge, as the New York Post reports.
According to Vanity Fair, a team of experts in the field of testing submitted a plan to officials at the White House back in late October proposing the production of over 730 million tests each month as well as an initiative that would provide rapid tests to all American households free of charge.
To achieve the plan’s objectives, involvement with Amazon, state health departments, local community officials, and pharmacies nationwide would have been necessary, and the experts also called for the launch of a public awareness campaign to go along with the testing push.
However, just days after the framework was proposed, the White House told its proponents that it would not be adopted, citing an inability to manufacture over-the-counter COVID-19 tests at the level called for by the plan.
As a result, the Omicron variant has resulted in an increase in cases of infection around the country, and a testing shortage has become so problematic that in places such as New York City, potentially infected individuals must wait in line for hours just to learn their coronavirus status.
According to Dr. Michael Mina, one of the teams that pushed forward the testing expansion proposal, the administration simply “didn’t support the notion of testing as a proper mitigation tool,” adding that it was clear to him that the White House preferred to focus on vaccination instead, the Post noted.
Perhaps caught off guard by the speed with which Omicron began sweeping across the nation and causing a rise in case rates, President Joe Biden last week announced that the federal government was preparing to ship upwards of 500 million at-home test kits to households requesting them, as NBC News noted.
That shift prompted scrutiny of White House press secretary Jen Psaki for her prior dismissal of mass testing distribution when she sarcastically said, “Should we just send one to every American?” only to later be forced to explain the administration’s apparent reversal in tone.
Such embarrassing whipsawing from a White House that pledged to get COVID-19 in hand once and for all is one thing, but recent reports that the Biden administration has not even signed any contracts to provide for the millions of tests just promised by the president just show that aside from forcing potentially ineffective vaccines on the entire population, this commander in chief is out of ideas.