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Coronavirus: White House concedes US lacks enough test kits

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2 months ago

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Today. The trump administration told Americans that the nation is ramping up. Its ability to test for the new corona virus but as of this morning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said only about thirty two thousand tests had been conducted. That's far below the capacity of some other countries. Our team took a look at some of the early missteps and miscalculations that limited testing for the virus and is now making it harder for the nation to fight it joining me now. Is Wall Street Journal reporter Chris? Weaver Chris why wasn't the? Us Better prepared so initially. What we've found is that the CDC in the state public health departments basically told private lives that you know. Look the getting into corona virus testing in early February that they had it under control and the initially developed a test that turned out not to work when they began distributing it around the country so there was a technical glitch that led to a setback. There took them a couple of weeks. Take another shot at developing the test. And by the time they had had begun to pop up around the country kind of layered on top of that the food and Drug Administration which has a special power to regulate testing during emergencies stepped in and said that for any lab that wanted to do tests for corona virus. They had to submit a special application. That would allow them to do it. Under normal circumstances many of these labs don't have to do anything. It's not like marketing a drug where you've got to go through a lengthy approval process. You just have to develop and validate the test that you're doing just at your own lab using the basic science. The guides laboratory operations and you could start doing it without the FDA at all so places took this kind of a signal not to begin efforts to ramp up tested at the light commercial and hospital clinical laboratories around the country. That would your ordinary. You know your typical blood tests cholesterol test or whatever so that decision at the FDA sort of limited the development of capacity in that part of the lab continue of here in addition to that the overall engagement with the private sector by the government. And I think that includes both dealing with encouraging labs to ramp up sooner and also making sure that the supply chains that would be needed to facilitate wide-scale test in just never happened. And when more labs in these last two weeks finally did begin to come to the market there have been giants supply shortages. That have made it really difficult for them to get off the ground and this also influenced when and how the public learned about these setbacks at times contradicted what we were hearing from administration officials. Yeah you know. Part of the failure involves not just planning and and kind of technical glitches. But you know as we reported there seem to be a big failure of imagination on the part of the federal government where people both in the White House and the health and Human Services Department as well as you know more more sort of technocrats at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention failed to envision the potential for this outbreak. Getting out of control and they seem to think that they were GonNA succeed containing it until it was quite a bit too late. And this is all against the backdrop of administration officials at the highest levels like the secretary of Health and Human Services. Alex is our and president. Donald Trump sending the message that the testing program was going great. And you know for instance President trump looted that. You know it could be that the whole thing was gone in a day as a result of a miracle at one point while while this was going on our sources are saying that only in the first week of March did they begin to recognize the urgency of the situation and start calling for were tested those causes of kind of led to the ramp that we're now seeing the concern of the public health world. Is that it might be too little too late as the virus split spread kind of below the radar for weeks right into that point how does US testing capacity right now compared to other nations impacted by the Corona Virus? Do even know the full scope. What we're dealing with. We all know probably know nation does but I think South Korea is the example. That's been held out most often Truly is possible to awful lot more than we do. And the comparison as of now is that South Korea's detest around twenty thousand people a day and has been tested between ten and twenty thousand. You know by comparison the CDC's most recent reported the sport aid was thirty two thousand US citizens have been tested so far and you know one of the things that we learned in. The course of our reporting is just because test kits are available. Doesn't mean that you know the actual capacities there. If you answer Larry elements like the swabs or some of the other other off the shelf chemicals. You need to complete the test and not available. Also we'll be following those shortages to Wall Street Journal reporter Christopher Weaver. Thank you so much for joining me. Sure ex