Shortage of tests soon to be resolved, advises Councilor Anthony Fauci

Images of crowds waiting for self-tests have multiplied throughout the weekend in the United States. The shortage of Covid-19 screening tests observed across the Atlantic will soon be resolved, Dr Anthony Fauci, senior White House adviser in the fight against the pandemic, assured on Sunday.

« One of the problems right now is that (the tests) won’t be fully available to everyone until January, » the epidemiologist told ABC, as the country sees an outbreak of cases due to the Omicron variant. « But we are tackling the problem of testing, and that, very soon, will be fixed, » he continued, also acknowledging his frustration with this shortage.

500 million kits purchased

On the occasion of the end of the year family holidays, the United States experienced a real rush on tests, especially on kits for testing at home. At the same time, the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise sharply due to the spread of the Omicron variant, with an average of more than 175,000 new cases per day on Sunday, over the last seven days, according to CDC data, main federal public health agency.

These coinciding events are partly responsible for this « high demand » resulting in the shortage of tests, according to Dr Fauci. “We obviously have to do better,” he said. President Joe Biden resolved last week to announce massive purchases of tests by the federal government: 500 million kits, which will be distributed free of charge to whoever requests them.

Deliveries in January only

But these tests will not be delivered until January, which fuels strong criticism against the White House, whose strategy to fight Covid-19 has for weeks been mainly focused on vaccination. US executive spokeswoman Jen Psaki was questioned on December 6, days after Omicron was first detected in the United States, about the difficulty of accessing tests in the country.

She just ironed, « We should send all Americans a free test, right? » Dr Fauci also spoke on the question of the Omicron variant and its dangerousness. Recognizing how Omicron is « extraordinarily contagious », he however welcomed the data from studies in South Africa and the United Kingdom which seem to indicate a lower dangerousness of the cases.

« The problem with which we do not want to be complacent (…) is when you have such a volume of new infections, it could exceed the real reduction in the dangerousness », he warned, however, fearing a congestion of the hospital system.

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