Trump Blames Obama For Lack Of Virus Testing Kits

Bloomberg News reports:

President Donald Trump blamed his predecessor Barack Obama for a nationwide shortage of test kits for the novel coronavirus, saying he had ended regulations limiting the development of the diagnostic tools.

“The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we’re doing and we undid that decision a few days ago so that the testing can take place in a much more accurate and rapid fashion,” Trump said at a meeting with airline executives at the White House on Wednesday.

He added: “That was a decision we disagreed with — I don’t think we would have made it — but for some reason it was made but we’ve undone that decision.”

New York Magazine reports:

Trump is amplifying a message that has been circulating in right-wing media for a few days. One blogger has blamed decisions by an “Obama holdover.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar appeared on Lou Dobbs’s program and blamed “an Obama-era FDA requirement that required that any lab-developed test be approved by the FDA.” At his remarks today, Mike Pence boasted that he had rescinded this regulation on Saturday.

Even taken at face value, this raises the question why the administration didn’t act earlier. After all, if there was an Obama decision that was hampering the government’s response, and Trump had it in his power to rescind it all along, why wait until the virus has already started spreading domestically?

The New York Post reports:

Spokespeople for the White House and Vice President Mike Pence were unable to provide additional information on the specific regulation. The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a request for information.

According to the FDA, draft guidance for laboratory-developed tests was proposed in 2014, to replace a “policy of enforcement discretion” with regard to cracking down on such tests, where the FDA sometimes chose to intervene and other times not. The framework ultimately was not implemented.