January 24, 2022

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‘That’s not a plan — it’s a hope’: Biden has yet to sign contracts for promised 500M at-home COVID tests – New York Post

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Days after President Biden publicly promised to provide 500 million free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests, his administration has still not signed any contracts — leading experts to deride it as nothing but a “hope.”

The president has already been accused of being caught unprepared when he announced the vague plans for a testing spree only on Tuesday, two years into the pandemic.

Now the New York Times has revealed that contracts have yet to be signed, and are unlikely to be until next week at the earliest — with the eventual rollout of his promise potentially taking months after that.

Despite promising the American people at-home COVID-19 tests, a new source reveals that the Biden administration has yet to sign contracts.
Despite promising the American people at-home COVID-19 tests, a new source reveals that the Biden administration has yet to sign contracts with suppliers.
AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey

“That’s not a plan — it’s a hope,” Jennifer Nuzzo, who helps track testing trends with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told the paper.

Even the website to order the tests will not be up until the new year, the report said — with the at-home test manufacturers already struggling to meet current demand ahead of the White House’s sudden promise.

According to sources, President Biden's administration has yet to sign any contracts to provide at-home COVID-19 tests to Americans.
According to sources, President Biden’s administration has yet to sign any contracts to provide at-home COVID-19 tests to Americans.
MediaPunch / BACKGRID
President Biden publicly made the promise on December 21, 2021 during a speech on the rising of Omicron cases.
President Biden publicly made the promise on December 21, 2021, during a speech on the rising tide of Omicron cases.
EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

“If those tests came in January and February, that could have an impact,” Nuzzo said of the alarming escalation of infections from Omicron.

“But if they are spread out over 10 to 12 months, I’m not sure what kind of impact it is going to have,” the epidemiologist warned.

Biden — who repeatedly attacked predecessor Donald Trump over his handling of the pandemic — was derided Tuesday when he tried to claim that nobody had “anticipated” the sudden spread of cases.

According to the New York Times, the website to order the tests will not be up until the new year.
According to the New York Times, the website to order the tests will not be up until the new year.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The tests are likely still months away from being shipped out to homes — likely in a slow drip rather than all at once — which experts made clear was an unwanted delay given the current alarm.

“Had this been started a long time ago, maybe things would be a bit different,” former Harvard professor Dr. Michael Mina, chief science officer of eMed, which distributes at-home tests, told the Times.

“But this is where we are now, and we kind of have to deal with it.”

DC residents line up to receive free at-home rapid COVID testing kits outside the Cleveland Park Library in Washington, DC on December 22, 2021.
DC residents line up to receive free at-home rapid COVID testing kits outside the Cleveland Park Library in Washington, DC, on December 22, 2021.
EPA/JIM LO SCALZO
People wait for at-home Covid-19 test kits in a long line that snakes multiple times around the Shaw Library on December 22, 2021.
People wait for at-home COVID-19 test kits in a line that snakes multiple times around the Shaw Library on December 22, 2021.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Manufacturers also warned that Biden’s promise did not take into account the struggle to meet demand, which is also stressed.

Abbott Laboratories, a major manufacturer of rapid at-home antigen tests, told the Times it was already facing “unprecedented demand” and “sending them out as fast as we can make them.”

A competing manufacturer, Ellume, said it “stands ready to meet the increased demand” — but not until it can open a new plant in Maryland in the new year.

At-home COVID tests are likely still months away from being shipped out to homes -- likely in a slow drip rather than all at once.
At-home COVID tests are likely still months away from being shipped out to homes — likely in a slow drip rather than all at once.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Manufacturers also warned that Biden's promise did not take into account the struggle to meet demand, which is also stressed.
Manufacturers also warned that Biden’s promise did not take into account the struggle to meet demand, which is also stressed.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Biden had insisted the delay was not a “failure,” angrily challenging a reporter who asked “what took so long to ramp up testing?”

“Come on — what took so long?” Biden scoffed, with neither he nor his officials giving a timeline for when they will be sent out.

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