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Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb defended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's early efforts to develop a coronavirus test on CBS News' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, rebutting claims by White House economic adviser Peter Navarro that the agency "let the country down."

What he's saying: "Even if the CDC had rolled out that test perfectly, there still wouldn't have been enough testing in place in the nation to do what we call 'sentinel surveillance' to try to detect this virus earlier," Gottlieb said.

  • Gottlieb, who has become a trusted voice on coronavirus commentary outside the Trump administration, argued that Department of Health and Human Services leadership should have picked up the phone in January or early February to engage large private labs.
  • "If they had asked the CEOs to do that, I'm willing to bet that they would have done it and you would have gotten the big labs in the game. That's what needed to happen."

The backdrop: Navarro's criticisms of the CDC referred to early coronavirus tests that didn't always work, resulting in delays in the country's ability to ramp up capacity. Manufacturing of the testing devices had to be relocated after multiple kits in an Atlanta research lab were possibly contaminated.

  • HHS Secretary Alex Azar echoed Gottlieb's defense of the CDC as well, saying on "Face the Nation" that the agency "was never going to be the backbone of broad testing in the United States. That depends on companies like Abbott and Roche."
  • "I don't believe the CDC let this country down," Azar said.

Yes, but: Gottlieb argued that one area in which the CDC could improve is by releasing more information about the clinical experiences of coronavirus patients.

  • "We haven't seen a really definitive, systematic accounting of the collective clinical experience with those patients and their outcomes and what interventions were used on them. This is what the CDC does," he said.

Go deeper

Aug 25, 2020 - Health

Hahn says criticism of his remarks on plasma treatment for coronavirus justified

FDA commissioner Stephen Hahnduring a press conference at the White House on Sunday. Photo: Pete Marovich/Getty Images

FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn said in a Twitter thread Monday night criticisms of his comments about granting an emergency use authorization (EUA) of convalescent plasma as a treatment for the coronavirus were "entirely justified."

The big picture: Hahn also addressed in his post the politicization of the FDA, in an apparent reference to President Trump and his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, accusing senior health officials of being part of the "Deep State" amid a decision to put the plasma treatment on hold.

Biden, Harris to receive regular COVID-19 tests

Biden and Harris conclude the Democratic National Conventio on Aug. 20 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris plan to get regularly tested as they ramp up in-person campaigning ahead of Election Day, a Biden campaign spokesperson confirmed Monday.

Why it matters: Biden had not received a coronavirus test as of this weekend, his deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday. Bedingfield said that Biden did not have the virus, but did not clarify how that was determined without a test.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Fauci: "I would vaccinate them in a second" — CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot — FDA panel endorses Pfizer vaccines for 5-11 year olds.
  2. Health: COVID cases fall by 20% — Public health messaging lessons for the next pandemic — Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization, study finds — COVID cases, deaths at meat plants were far higher than previously thought.
  3. Politics: NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate — Judge rejects Southwest pilots' challenge to vaccine mandate — Louisiana lifts mask mandate except for some schools.
  4. Education: Benefits of vaccine for children outweigh risks, FDA says — Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.