- Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious disease, on Thursday said the US needs to admit it’s “failing” in terms of testing for the novel coronavirus.
- “That is a failing. It is a failing. Let’s admit it,” Fauci said in comments to House lawmakers.
- The scarcity of testing has been the most heavily scrutinised aspect of the US government’s response to cornavirus.
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The nation’s top expert on infectious disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on Thursday said it is a “failing” that the US is not in a position to “easily” provide testing for the novel coronavirus.
“The system is not really geared to what we need right now – what you are asking for,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told House lawmakers. “The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes. But we’re not.”
“That is a failing. It is a failing. Let’s admit it,” he added, after being questioned by Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida about the nation’s capacity to carry out testing for the virus.
Dr. Fauci on testing: "It is a failing. I mean let's admit it." pic.twitter.com/QUPTdHpIXR
— Dori Toribio (@DoriToribio) March 12, 2020
Fauci’s comments came about a week after Trump visited the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and falsely said “anybody that needs a test gets a test.”
“Anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful,” Trump said.
“Anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful."
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) March 6, 2020
The US has been outpaced by other countries in terms of testing for the virus.
The CDC has told congressional lawmakers it’s tested about 3,800 people to date, while the total number of people tested in the US is around 7,800 when you factor in other labs, Politico reporter Kyle Cheney reported on Thursday, per comments from Republican Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina. Meanwhile, kits to test about 800,000 more have been disseminated.
But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Tuesday signalled the US doesn’t know exactly how many people have been tested.
“We don’t know exactly how many, because hundreds of thousands of our tests have gone out to private labs and hospitals that currently do not report in to CDC,” Azar said.
Comparatively, nearly 20,000 people are being tested for coronavirus in South Korea per day, according to BBC News.
The lack of testing in the US is linked to faulty test kits sent out by the CDC last month, and the government has struggled to handle the pace of the outbreak because of it, which Fauci alluded to in his comments to lawmakers on Thursday.
The US has reported at least 1,358 cases and confirmed 38 coronavirus deaths: 30 in Washington state, four in California, two in Florida, and one each in New Jersey and South Dakota. Globally, more than 127,000 people have been infected and over 4,700 have died.
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