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Americans for Prosperity Press Release

ICYMI: Learning from the Government’s COVID Testing Debacle

Jan 12, 2022 by AFP

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we would be foolish to give the government more control of our health care,” writes Dean Clancy, senior health policy fellow at Americans for Prosperity

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Learning from the Government’s COVID Testing Debacle

Dean Clancy | Newsweek | January 12, 2022

Angry Americans deserve to know why they aren’t getting the COVID-19 tests they paid for and were promised.

Make no mistake; the testing debacle is a government creation. It began in early 2020 when Food and Drug Administration officials rebuffed a request by Washington state researchers to use coronavirus tests they developed. The FDA insisted tests could be done using only Centers for Disease Control kits, which proved unreliable due to contamination. The screw-up cost America five precious weeks, during which time the virus spread unobserved and unchecked.

When the Biden administration came into office it promised to “aggressively speed up our COVID-19 response, especially on vaccines and testing.” Soon Congress passed and the president signed the $1.9 billion COVID-19 relief bill. That law and previous ones dedicated some $83 billion specifically for testing.

However, it is clear the administration, its rhetoric notwithstanding, chose to focus on vaccines while ignoring testing.

It wasn’t until the Omicron variant started ripping through the country that the administration finally decided to pay attention. By late 2021, the FDA had come under pressure from an increasingly alarmed White House, whose vaccine strategy was clearly failing, to approve more at-home rapid tests, if only to help bring down their price. The FDA complied, approving nine more rapid at-home antigen tests on top of the two it had already approved, for a total of 11. The president even got around to finally nominating an FDA chief in November—10 months after taking office amid a pandemic!

The federal government also breathlessly announced it will spend $137 million to help life science company Millipore Sigma produce nitrocellulose membranes, a key ingredient in rapid antigen tests that will support 85 million additional tests a month. The only problem is Millipore Sigma must first build a facility, and it won’t be operational until late 2024!

Given all that has gone wrong with government control of COVID testing, how much confidence should Americans have that cures for other maladies would still be developed with drug price controls? When the politicians say, “trust us, those cures will still happen,” should we believe them? If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we would be foolish to give the government more control of our health care.

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