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The White House in October turned down a proposal that would have added more than 730 million at-home COVID tests to the market per month, according to a report this week.
A plan by top industry experts from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the COVID Collaborative, the Rockefeller Foundation, and other organizations, sought to ramp up manufacturing capabilities “to Prevent Holiday COVID Surge,” first reported Vanity Fair Thursday.
But the White House rejected the Oct. 22 bid and three days later announced it would seek to bolster rapid home testing through the “FDA’s regulatory approval process.”
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An administration official present at the October meeting told the publication that the decision was based on the fact that the U.S. “did not have capacity to manufacture over-the-counter tests at that scale.”
The problem with bolstering at-home testing was down to the fact that the FDA had only approved a handful of testing kits and the ability to drastically increase manufacturing of the kits was reportedly limited.
But the announcement by President Biden earlier this week shows a change in the administration’s priority as COVID cases are again on the rise nationwide.
Starting in January 2022, the White House will launch a website that will allow Americans to order free at-home testing kits.
The move is in response to recent shortages in at-home testing kits and long lines to get tested during the holiday season.
“I wish I had thought about ordering a half a billion [tests] two months ago, before COVID hit here,” Biden said during a Wednesday interview with ABC News.
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But comments made by White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier this year suggest the administration had prematurely dismissed the idea.
“Should we just send one to every American?” she scoffed from the podium in answer to questions over increased access to testing kits.
“Then what happens if you—if every American has one test? How much does that cost, and then what happens after that?” she added.
But following the president’s announcement, Psaki indicated she regretted her comments.
“I would say there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t leave this podium and wish I would have said something with greater context or more precision or additional information,” she said earlier this week.
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“During that briefing, I conveyed a lot of information about our expansion of testing, about the 50 million tests that we were making available, about the 20,000 free testing sites,” she continued. “And should I have included that additional context again in that answer? Yes.
“Going back, I wish I would have done that,” she added.
Fox News could not immediately reach the White House for comment.