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Fauci on lack of tests during holiday season: ‘We’ve got to do better’

People wait in line to get tested for COVID-19 at a mobile testing site in Times Square
Associated Press/Yuki Iwamura

The White House’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the U.S. has to do better when it comes to testing options being more widely available in the country. 

When asked by ABC News’s “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl if the lack of testing options many Americans are experiencing over the holiday season frustrates him, Fauci responded that, “Well, obviously it does.”

“I mean, if you look at the beginning of the administration, the beginning of the year, there were essentially no rapid point of care home tests available. Now, there are over nine of them and more coming,” he added.

Karl noted that President Biden was “quite defensive” when he was asked about the testing issue on ABC News and said that “this has not been a failure.” He added that testing was “a colossal failure in the early days.”

However, Fauci defended the response and said that the production of rapid tests has been rapidly scaled up, and added “we [in the U.S.] have a high demand because we should be using testing much more extensively than we have, even in a situation where you have people who are vaccinated or boosted.”

He added that the testing issue was a result of high demand from “a conflation of events,” including “omicron stirring people to get appropriately concerned” and people “wanting to get tested as well during the holiday season.”

Fauci, however, added that the U.S. has “got to do better.”

“I mean, I think things will improve greatly as we get into January, but that doesn’t help us today and tomorrow. So you’re right, that is something that is of concern,” he said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday defended the Biden administration’s efforts to ramp up at-home coronavirus testing amid a nationwide shortage of tests. The Biden administration announced last week that it was ordering 500 million tests that it will send to Americans who want them but the system for ordering them won’t be up and running until January.

Psaki said that Biden took steps following the emergence of the delta variant over the summer to expand COVID-19 testing capacity, including a $3 billion investment in at-home testing capacity.

Biden announced last week that in January, health insurance will begin to cover at-home tests and a half-billion rapid tests will become available for free to be delivered at home. He also noted that in the coming days federal testing facilities will be set up to increase testing availability. 

The self tests have been highly in demand as in-person test sites are overwhelmed with long lines of people waiting to be tested for the virus.

Tags Anthony Fauci Jen Psaki Joe Biden

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