Dr. Anthony Fauci has not been shy about criticizing the administration’s response to the pandemic. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has become something of a media star in recent days, appearing on the five major Sunday-morning talk shows last weekend.
Last week, Fauci told a congressional committee that the administration and the U.S. healthcare system was not prepared to combat the coronavirus and that the problems with testing was a “failing.”
“The system is not really geared to what we need right now,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a House hearing about coronavirus test kits in the United States, which were initially dogged by technical glitches. “That is a failing. Let’s admit it.”
As the media and Democrats were getting hysterical about the lack of testing, Fauci explained that the system simply wasn’t “set up” for widespread, immediate testing.
“The idea of anybody getting it easily the way people in other countries are doing it, we’re not set up for that,” Fauci told Wasserman Schultz. “Do I think we should be? Yes. But we’re not.”
With the limited number of test kits, the CDC determined that simply being exposed to someone with COVID-19 wasn’t enough; you had to show actual symptoms of the disease before becoming eligible for a test.
The situation has now been remedied and testing numbers will take off in the next 10 days. But, the political question lingers: who is to blame?
Dr. Fauci, in an appearance on the “Hugh Hewitt” radio show, said that the CDC and Trump were not to blame for the failures.
“It was a complicated series of multiple things that conflated that just, you know, went the wrong way. One of them was a technical glitch that slowed things down in the beginning. Nobody’s fault. There wasn’t any bad guys there. It just happened,” Fauci said.
The problem here may have been “technical,” but it’s an open question whether it could have been avoided. The original testing kits sent out by the CDC in early February to state and local health officials could have tested 50,000 people. But there was a problem with one of the four reagents that would be used to show any reaction with the patient DNA. This made the test virtually useless.
The test worked fine at CDC headquarters in Atlanta, so the “glitch” wasn’t foreseen. And Dr. Fauci reiterated that no one– including Donald Trump and the CDC — could be blamed.
“Was the glitch or anything about the production of the test President Trump’s fault?” Hewitt responded. “Or actually, let me put it more broadly, would every president have run into the same problem?”
“Oh, absolutely,” Fauci replied. “This has nothing to do with anybody’s fault, certainly not the president’s fault.”
But politics demands that someone — anyone — get fingered for the blame. Donald Trump was the guy in charge when the glitch happened. It doesn’t matter that he had no role in creating the test, manufacturing the test, or distributing the test. He wouldn’t know a reagent from a refi. But it feels good to be able to point the finger and say, “It’s all his fault.” It won’t make the testing go any faster to blame Trump. It won’t save any lives to blame him.
But it sure looks good in a campaign commercial.