National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci has admitted that, though he hadn’t been aware of them until recently, certain regulations pertaining to disease testing had previously been in place within the federal government.
He admitted this Sunday after being asked by Fox News’ host Chris Wallace about President Donald Trump’s claim that certain Obama-era regulations had delayed his administration’s rollout of coronavirus testing kits.
“To be honest with you, I’m not sure what regulations and when it was that they’re talking about. I really mean that,” Fauci initially said of the regulations mentioned by Trump. “I’m trying to figure out what it is that these things were in place that were able to or inhibiting [the administration’s testing kit rollout].”
He then added, “But one thing that I do know now is that the ability to get a test had some regulatory and other restrictions on it but the FDA now has just gotten rid of.”
Listen, via FNC’s “Fox News Sunday“:
(Source: Fox News)
“They could have done that day one,” Wallace pressed.
They could have had they been aware of the regulations. But since regulations tend to get buried underneath even more over-burdensome regulations — particularly in large bureaucracies where information moves slowly — it appears members of the administration, including Fauci, weren’t keenly aware of the regulations until the coronavirus crisis erupted.
“They could have,” Fauci replied, “but that problem is they didn’t so instead of looking back, looking at where we’re going.”
Ideally, yes, though some members of the establishment press have preferred to instead focus on the past in the hopes of continuing to trash the president.
This, in turn, has led the president to have no other option but to also look backward, such as he did during a coronavirus press conference held Friday from the White House.
“Yeah, no, I don’t take responsibility at all, because we were given a — a set of circumstances and we were given rules, regulations, and specifications from a different time,” he replied when asked if he’s willing to “take responsibility” for the delays in testing.
Trump says “I don’t take responsibility at all” when asked about the delay in coronavirus tests pic.twitter.com/rJYEo7Gfpu
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) March 13, 2020
In a tweet posted hours before the press conference Friday, the president offered more context for his claim.
For decades the @CDCgov looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it. It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped. President Obama made changes that only complicated things further…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2020
While the claim predictably triggered accusations of “whataboutism” from the left-wing media, the facts make it clear he had a valid point.
According to the Washington Examiner, a slew of regulations from prior administrations, including that of Obama, have been lifted in recent days.
“One regulation Trump lifted was to allow states to produce their own testing kits,” the outlet noted last week. “He also removed a regulation that required all test kits to be sent to a CDC lab to be confirmed by federal authorities, a process that extended the wait times for patients to be notified about their results.”
Is it fair though for him to attribute some of the blame for the delays in coronavirus testing to these regulations? According to the experts, the answer is yes.
“Overregulation of diagnostic testing has played a major role in this delay,” Roger D. Klein, M.D., J.D., an expert with the Regulatory Transparency Project’s FDA and Health Working Group, wrote for City Journal last week.
“The FDA has not allowed the experienced and highly skilled professionals at public-health, academic and commercial laboratories to set up their own laboratory developed tests (LDTs), and no manufactured test kits have been authorized for sale in the US. In Europe, several companies, at least one US-based, have regulatory approval to sell test kits there,” his piece continued.
“The FDA’s regulation of laboratory tests has been a longstanding concern. This includes moves to regulate LDTs, despite the existence of stringent alternative-regulatory and oversight mechanisms. In general, the FDA has exercised ‘enforcement discretion’ with respect to LDTs. With coronavirus testing, the FDA’s abandonment of enforcement discretion may have proved deadly.”
It’s troubling that community spread of #coronavirus in Washington State and other parts of the U.S.—possibly affecting hundreds to thousands of individuals—wasn’t detected sooner. Overregulation of diagnostic testing has played a major role in this delay. https://t.co/QkwKM3vWxd
— City Journal (@CityJournal) March 7, 2020
With the red tape out of the way, state governors have begun ordering bulk quantities of testing kits.
“Governor Ron DeSantis announced he ordered 2,500 COVID-19 test kits. That’s enough to test 625,000 people. Florida has already received 1,000 of the kits. They’re being doled out to labs and hospitals across the state to increase daily testing capacity as soon as possible,” Tallahassee station WTXL reported Friday.
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