Dec 27, 2021 - Health

Biden: "We have more work to do" on COVID testing capacity

Biden meets with the White House Covid-19 Response team and the National Governors Association

Biden meets with the White House COVID-19 response team and the National Governors Association on Dec. 27. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden said during a meeting with the nation's governors and his COVID-19 response team Monday that the administration has not yet done enough to scale up the nation's COVID-19 testing capacity.

Why it matters: As the nation faces a surge in COVID cases driven by the Omicron variant, Biden conceded that the administration's efforts to scale up rapid testing were "clearly not enough."

  • His comments diverged from his stance last week, when he pushed back against suggestions that he had acted too slowly on testing.

What he's saying: "It's clearly not enough. If we'd have known, we'd have gone harder, quicker if we could have," he added. "Seeing how tough it was for some folks to get a test this weekend shows that we have more work to do."

The backdrop: The high transmissibility of the Omicron variant has underscored the necessity of making rapid at-home COVID tests more accessible.

  • Biden emphasized his administration's critical role in making over-the-counter rapid tests available, though the U.S. has been slower to embrace rapid at-home COVID testing than Europe.

The big picture: Earlier this month, the administration announced plans to open new testing sites. The U.S. will also purchase 500 million rapid tests this winter, which will be free for Americans, with the first shipment set to arrive in January.

Go deeper: The ongoing U.S. failure on rapid COVID tests

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