A Biden administration official admitted this week that 50 million COVID-19 tests have been sitting in warehouses in the United States as the current surge of the virus has caused shortages across the nation.
At a hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell made the admission when pressed by Republican North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr.
“What we initially did to be able to access tests for the initial shipments that will go towards the end of January, we worked with warehouses to see where additional tests were stored and assessed that additional capacity and are bringing that capacity to bear for these initial tests that are going out, which is why you’re seeing contracts with warehouses and not with test manufacturers,” O’Connell said.
When Burred asked if she was admitting there are 50 million tests in warehouses in the United States, all the government did was access that inventory.
“That is my understanding,” O’Connell replied.
“Will you confirm your understanding? This is a very important piece, when you’ve got companies that don’t manufacture tests, and all of a sudden we’re giving them a $190 million contract for about 14 million home tests,” Burr said.
President Joe Biden and his COVID-19 response team have been heavily criticized for not ramping up COVID-19 testing capacity during his first year in office. When the extremely contagious Omicron wave hit, cases spread like wildfire, leaving many Americans waiting in lines circling city blocks, many of them very sick, for tests, with some unable to find tests at all.