Victoria Knight and Jon Greenberg, PolitiFact
During Sunday evening’s debate, whereas leveling criticism at President Donald Trump’s dealing with of the nationwide response to the coronavirus pandemic, former Vice President Joe Biden mentioned the Trump administration refused to get coronavirus testing kits from the World Health Organization.
“Look, the World Health Organization offered the testing kits that they have available and to give it to us now. We refused them. We did not want to buy them. We did not want to get them from them. We wanted to make sure we had our own,” Biden mentioned.
An analogous declare about WHO check kits has additionally been circulating on Facebook.
The Biden marketing campaign referred us to a Politico article that mentioned the WHO shipped coronavirus assessments to almost 60 international locations on the finish of February, however the U.S. was not amongst them. That is technically right, but it surely means that the United States would have been on the checklist beneath any circumstances.
The international locations WHO helped are ones that lack the virology lab horsepower that exists throughout the United States. The outreach work by the Pan American Health Organization is a living proof.
The group is WHO’s arm within the Americas. It carried out trainings and despatched supplies to conduct assessments to 29 nations. The checklist included Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and plenty of others.
The group said it focused most of its efforts on “countries with the weakest health systems.”
“No discussions occurred between WHO and CDC about WHO providing COVID-19 tests to the United States,” mentioned WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris. “This is consistent with experience since the United States does not ordinarily rely on WHO for reagents or diagnostic tests because of sufficient domestic capacity.”
According to interviews with a number of infectious-disease specialists, Biden’s assertion leaves out context about how international locations selected which check they’d use to determine the presence of the coronavirus.
WHO lists seven different approaches — together with that of China, the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, France and Germany — each focusing on totally different components of the COVID-19 genetic profile.
Christopher Mores, a worldwide well being professor at George Washington University, mentioned that when confronted with an outbreak, the WHO will normally undertake the perfect check analysis group brings ahead.
The German one turned the method WHO circulated as its most popular mannequin.
Aid teams, such because the Pan American Health Organization, took that mannequin and constructed their coaching and provides round it. If the mannequin was just like the recipe in a cookbook, the provides had been the substances in a house meal package from Blue Apron.
Any nation might use no matter recipe it most popular, and even when the United States had picked the WHO’s protocol, it wouldn’t want the WHO to promote it the supplies to observe it. Germany launched its protocol on Jan. 17, however the U.S. determined to have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention develop its personal. That protocol was revealed Jan. 28.
The CDC’s check was totally different and extra difficult than the German check. It labored within the CDC lab, however when the materials went out to state labs, outcomes had been inconsistent. The CDC needed to resend packages with new chemical reagents.
State laboratories began growing their very own assessments and had been prepared to make use of them, however needed to await emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration. All of this added as much as a delay in testing capabilities, which resulted in fewer Americans being examined and an total slower U.S. response in contrast with different international locations.
When requested to reply to Biden’s declare, the Trump marketing campaign pointed to a number of information tales that mentioned it’s not unusual for the U.S. and other countries to develop their very own assessments throughout outbreaks, and that the CDC did so throughout the Ebola and Zika outbreaks. The marketing campaign additionally mentioned the CDC’s check had a quick turnaround in contrast with different diagnostic assessments like these for MERS and Zika, which took months to develop. And the difficulty with the CDC’s protocol was not the check itself, however fairly a manufacturing defect, the marketing campaign added.
That’s Not How It Works
While it might sound odd that the Trump administration shunned the WHO’s coronavirus check protocol, it’s regular for international locations with superior analysis capabilities to wish to develop a measure they belief.
“I don’t know if WHO agreed to sell the kits to us, but it should never have been something we needed to do given our technological expertise and the fact we would have ‘taken kits from low- and middle-income countries’ that otherwise could not make or afford them,” mentioned Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy on the University of Minnesota, in an electronic mail.
It’s additionally unlikely, Mores mentioned, that the WHO supplied to promote kits to the U.S., as a result of that’s not usually what the group does.
“In my experience, this is never something that I would have to purchase,” he mentioned.
Typically, Mores mentioned, American labs have all the fundamental substances and tools to run the check — all that will be wanted is the viral sequences and an actual testing protocol. The solely catch for the time being is that provides of these fundamental substances are stretched skinny resulting from excessive demand.
Biden mentioned, “The World Health Organization offered the testing kits that they have available and to give it to us now. We refused them. We did not want to buy them.”
Biden has a degree that the U.S. didn’t try to make use of the WHO check. But the U.S. would by no means have wanted full kits from WHO. Even if it had adopted the WHO testing method, it already had entry to all the required supplies.
WHO mentioned there was by no means any speak of WHO sending testing kits to the United States.
Biden’s phrases pass over different vital context and data.
The U.S. selected to make use of its personal check, fairly than the one circulated by WHO. Other nations, akin to China, Japan and France, additionally developed their very own assessments. Multiple public well being specialists mentioned that’s not uncommon.
Biden’s emphasis on WHO providing kits is just unsuitable. We price this declare Mostly False.
Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nationwide well being coverage information service. It is an editorially impartial program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.