When America gets going, it moves fast.
That, at least, was the message from the White House during President Donald Trump’s virtual town hall meeting on Tuesday, when both he and White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said we’d carried out more COVID-19 tests in the past eight days than South Korea in the past eight weeks.
Birx, when answering a question about self-testing, said the United States had ramped up to the point where it was running more far more tests than the country that has become the international standard of testing.
“I just want to speak to the Americans for just a second though, we have to ensure that we still are testing, even though probably by today we will have done more tests than South Korea did in eight weeks, in the last eight days,” Birx said.
“In the last eight days, we’ve done more testing than South Korea. But, we did that because we transformed the testing process, as the president spoke to, but we don’t want people who are just worried to go get tested,” she added.
Trump would later say that “we took something that was broken and we made it the model. And I didn’t even know, I just heard the number for the first time from Deborah, that in a short period of time, we’ve done more testing than South Korea.
“Now, you’re not going to read that in the newspapers because they don’t like to write things like that, but I’d love you to say that one more time because that’s a big number. We’ve done more than South Korea in a short period of time.”
According to Birx, South Korea has done 290,000 tests thus far.
The United States, by comparison, is doing between 50,000 to 70,000 tests a day at the moment.
“And now we’re way over 300,000, but we achieved that over the last seven to eight days,” Birx said.
Trump said that the United States’ “tests are better, they’re highly sophisticated. And, frankly, I took one. It’s not the most pleasant thing in the world, I will tell you that.
“We’re going to have a much simpler test very soon, but we have a really good test and we’ve done more in eight days.”
“I just heard this number a few minutes ago,” he said. “Pretty impressive.”
The Centers for Disease Control also made critical errors in developing the test that was used in the U.S., causing delays in getting a test out there.
That said, once America gets going, it moves its posterior.
As of right now, Quest Diagnostics, a private laboratory company, says it can run up to 25,000 coronavirus tests per day.
“By the end of this week we’ll have close to a dozen laboratories that would be running this test, those laboratories will run throughout the United States, both on the East Coast as well as on the West Coast,” Quest Diagnostics CEO Steve Rusckowski told ABC News.
Seven weeks ago, the private lab got authorization from the United States government to develop its own test for COVID-19.
“When we heard from the FDA that we had the go-ahead to develop our own test on Feb. 29, we then had our development team — these are M.D.s, Ph.D.’s — work on the development of the assay and we had to actually test to make sure that that test would work — it’s called a validation process — so we were bringing in some of the virus from South Korea,” Rusckowski said.
Along with their suppliers, they worked to develop automated testing, as well.
“With that automated test in parallel with what we do ourselves — this allows us to greatly expand our capacity over the last several weeks,” Rusckowski said.
This is but one of the suppliers that’s answered the call to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s not unlike World War II in microcosm, where the United States had to not only build up military capacity but also production capacity.
We did. We see not only the same spirit but the same prowess being demonstrated now.
Yes, federal incompetence made it difficult for us to meet our testing needs at first.
We haven’t turned the corner yet. We’re getting there, though.
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