President Donald Trump on Wednesday blamed his predecessor for a nationwide shortage of test kits for the COVID-19 coronavirus, saying he had ended Obama-era regulations limiting the development of the diagnostic tools.
“The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing and we undid that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more accurate and rapid fashion,” Trump said at a meeting with airline executives at the White House on Wednesday.
He added: “That was a decision we disagreed with — I don’t think we would have made it — but for some reason it was made but we’ve undone that decision.”
Bloomberg News reports:
Local government officials have complained that test kits to determine whether people are infected with the virus have been in short supply because the federal government was unprepared for the outbreak. San Francisco’s mayor called the shortage of kits “a national disgrace” in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday.
Asked to explain his remarks, Trump referred the question to Pence and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield.
Pence said that because of a Trump order over the weekend, states can now conduct coronavirus testing in state and university laboratories.
Redfield explained to reporters that private laboratories used to be able to develop clinical tests and apply them, but “in the previous administration that became regulated. For someone to do that they had to file with the FDA.”
The FDA on Saturday allowed for some laboratories to conduct diagnostic tests on the coronavirus before an emergency process is fully approved. For a period of time while labs submit formal applications, the FDA does not intend to object to the tests for specimen testing, according to a statement.
Redfield said that thanks to Trump’s order, “University labs and others can be fully engaged in developing diagnostics.”
“It was something we had to do and we did it very quickly,” Trump said. He said “many, many more sites” and “many, many more people” will be able to be tested.
“You couldn’t have that under the Obama rule and we ended that rule very quickly,” he said.
Trump on coronavirus testing: "The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we're doing & we undid that decision a few days ago so that testing can take place in a much more accurate & rapid fashion" (what's he talking about?) pic.twitter.com/Z0UBaORIwI
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 4, 2020