Biden won’t call Covid testing debacle a ‘failure’ but admits not ‘good enough

Biden says he wishes he thought of ordering 500 million test kits ‘two months ago’

Stuti Mishra
Thursday 23 December 2021 06:27 GMT
Biden speaks about the spread of the Omicron variant during a sit-in interview at the White House

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Louise Thomas

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Joe Biden has said that the availability of at-home tests for coronavirus in the US is not “good enough,” but the situation is better than before.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News on Wednesday, the president spoke about the spread of Omicron which has now been detected in 50 states and the poor availability of home testing kits. He, however, added that the empty shelves were not a sign of failure for his administration.

"We’re nearly two years into this pandemic, you’re a year into the presidency, empty shelves and no test kits in some places three days before Christmas when it’s so important," ABC anchor David Muir asked Mr Biden. "Is that good enough?"

“No, nothing’s been good enough," Mr Biden said. "But look, look where we are.”

“When last Christmas, we were in a situation where we had significantly fewer vaccinated — people vaccinated, emergency rooms were filled. You had serious backups in hospitals that were causing great difficulties,” he said.

“We’re in a situation now where we have 200 million people fully vaccinated,” he added. “And we have more than that who have had one shot, at least one shot. And they’re getting these booster shots as well."

When Mr Muir asked the president why these tests aren’t available during the Christmas rush when people will socialise more and whether that is a failure, he said: “I don’t think it’s a failure”.

"I think it’s -- you could argue that we should have known a year ago, six months ago, two months ago, a month ago,” Mr Biden said, adding: "I wish I had thought about ordering" 500 million at-home tests "two months ago”.

The US Centre for Disease Control on Wednesday said Omicron has quickly taken over Delta in the US and accounts for 73 per cent of the cases in the country.

However, the Biden administration’s plans are to increase restrictions from January and buy 500 million home testing kits to be distributed to Americans.

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