Psaki put on the spot about ‘optics’ of sending Americans COVID tests labeled ‘Made in China’

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(Video Credit: The White House)

Bloomberg White House correspondent Jennifer Epstein put White House press secretary Jen Psaki on the spot Wednesday, questioning her on the “optics” of the Biden administration sending Americans COVID tests that say “Made in China” on them.

Epstein’s observations and questions hit close to home after the Biden administration bought $1.3 billion worth of Chinese-made COVID-19 rapid tests to send to Americans.

“The Chinese company Andon Health owns iHealth, which is one of the providers. They have a — they signed a $1.3 billion contract with the Pentagon last month for these tests,” she noted.

“Is the administration concerned about…the sort of optics and messaging of sending something to Americans’ homes that says — says ‘Made in China’ on it at the same time that you’re, you know, doing this thing that you consider to be a positive good for Americans, and just kind of the overall, you know, philosophy of giving federal contracts to China?” the reporter asked.

“Well, I would say our objective continues to be to increase U.S. manufacturing capacity of tests. We also needed to meet a need that we had in this country for more tests and a shortage of tests and the understandable demand from people across this country to get tests and make them free and accessible, which required us purchasing some of those tests from China in order to meet that demand,” Psaki responded, attempting to justify the unjustifiable.

“But that doesn’t change our commitment to increasing our U.S. manufacturing to ensure that we will be able to meet that demand with products made here in the United States over the course of time,” she added.

Both Psaki and the White House took flack a few months ago when the demand for COVID tests exceeded the supply of them as the administration attempted to ramp up efforts to get them mailed out. Psaki, notably, pushed back against the idea of sending tests to every home in America, asserting that it could result in wasted and unused tests.

President Joe Biden announced in December his plan to distribute half a billion free tests to Americans. He told ABC’s David Muir that “I wish I had thought about ordering” 500 million tests “two months ago.”

The Chinese contracts for the tests outraged numerous members of Congress and set social media on fire where pictures were posted showing test kit boxes that said, “Made in China.”

According to the Washington Free Beacon, Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) stated the contract was akin to “paying the arsonist for helping put out the fire” because the pandemic originated in China possibly via a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) bluntly declared that the contract was “ridiculous” because China has “not been transparent one iota on what happened at Wuhan.”

Bloomberg reported that iHealth was the big winner and received a $1.3 billion contract for the tests. Roche Diagnostics got a smaller $340 million award and Abbott Labs received a $306 million deal.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) pointed out that Abbott Labs laid off hundreds of workers in her state due to a decline in demand for tests after the Chinese were awarded the contract.

“The money was there. The manufacturers were ready. The employees were there. The manufacturing lines had been ramped up and the administration made a critical error in scaling back dramatically, in the midst of the pandemic, the number of tests that it ordered,” Collins stated. “I just don’t understand it.”

U.S. intelligence agencies said in August that it’s possible the virus leaked from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, calling the theory one of two “plausible” explanations along with natural transmission from animals.

Documents that were published in September by The Intercept revealed that US health officials indirectly funded “gain of function” research at the Wuhan lab that sought to better understand viruses by manipulating them.

Anger surged across social media over Chinese-made COVID test kits:


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