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A M Reid
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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So far in the United States, around 30,000 coronavirus tests have been conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health laboratories. The United States is drastically behind on testing in contrast to countries across the globe, especially South Korea, despite the fact that both countries found their first cases of the coronavirus on the same day.
According to recent data by the CDC, South Korea has tested more than 270,000 people and has the capacity to test up to 15,000 – 20,000 individuals daily. To put this into perspective, (using the COVID Tracking Project’s data), the United States has conducted approximately 125 tests per million people while South Korea has conducted over 5,200 tests per million. Notably, case numbers are now dropping in South Korea — today only 74 new cases have been reported so far, with the peak previously being at 909 on February 29.
The Trump administration has received scrutiny regarding the testing protocol and the lack of tests being conducted.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said “the administration has no good answers, no plan, there’s no leadership,” and that “members of both parties are frustrated and angry, and they have every right to be.”
Trump has particularly faced criticism for downplaying the severity of the virus and for sharing misinformation. He inaccurately announced that a vaccine would be readily available soon and claimed that the virus fatality rate is a fraction of 1 percent, despite the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating it at 3.4 percent.
Robert Kelly, a professor of international relations, compared the response of South Korean President Moon Jae in with Trump’s and remarked that: “Moon has shown a far greater willingness to take corona seriously and allow experts to run the response. There has been nothing here like Trump’s dithering over the last month, or his bizarre public announcements that this will just go away soon or is under control. Nor has there been anything as unhinged as the conspiracy theorizing so widespread on Trumpist media.”
The administration also chose to develop its own test instead of using the WHO’s test, but this decision consequently led to testing delays. The CDC’s initial design turned out to be faulty, meaning most of the test kits made in early February were unusable.
However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on the Hugh Hewitt Show said that Trump and the CDC are not responsible for the testing failures.
When Fauci was asked “What happened on the testing development?” by host Hugh Hewitt, he remarked that it was simply “a complicated series of multiple things that conflated that just…went the wrong way.”
“One of them was a technical glitch that slowed things down in the beginning. Nobody’s fault. There weren’t any bad guys there, it just happens. And then when we realized, when the CDC realized, and the FDA, that both the system itself as it was set up, which serves certain circumstances very well, was not well-suited to the kind of broad testing that we needed the private sector to get involved in. The regulatory constraints, which under certain circumstances are helpful and protective of the American people, were not suited to the emergence of this particular outbreak.” Fauci explained.
“Was the glitch or anything about the production of the test President Trump’s fault? Or actually, let me put it more broadly: Would every president have run into the same problem?” Hewitt then asked.
“Oh, absolutely. This has nothing to do with anybody’s fault, certainly not the president’s fault,” Fauci stated.
Fauci further went on to emphasize that the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are now working with the private sector, and therefore test kit availability will be improving quickly.
“I believe now that the CDC and the FDA’s department, that we’ve got it right now because we’re handing much of it over to the private sector, the heavy hitter companies that do this for a living. And I think what you’re going to be seeing looking forward is a major, major improvement in the availability of testing,” Fauci noted.
Globally, there are currently around 180,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and about 7,000 deaths.
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