Interviews with COVID-19 test manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, laboratories, industry associations, and state officials reveal chaotic, uncoordinated federal response led to avoidable shortages of certain supplies, delays, and mistakes
30-page report warns supply chain issues could make it impossible to expand—or even maintain—testing capacity if federal government continues its refusal to lead
Report offers 26 recommendations to improve COVID-19 testing capacity, apply lessons learned to vaccine development and delivery, and improve the response to future disease outbreaks
Senator Murray: “Without leadership and a serious change of course from the Trump Administration, it’s not a question of if these issues we are still struggling with will spiral out of control—but only a matter of when.”
Senator Murray: “This should also be a stark warning about the importance of demanding a comprehensive national vaccine plan from this Administration… A plan for that kind of undertaking isn’t negotiable—it’s absolutely necessary.”
Report: “Had there been competent, consistent leadership from the federal government, the United States could have avoided critical delays and better addressed supply shortages, allowing testing capacity to expand more rapidly.”
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a new report detailing the Trump Administration’s failure to quickly scale up COVID-19 testing nationwide. The new report makes clear how a lack of federal leadership from the Trump Administration greatly complicated and delayed efforts across the country to expand COVID-19 testing access, costing valuable time when the virus could have been better contained, and leaving states and communities without the testing they needed to protect families as they fought to slow the spread and get the pandemic under control. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for how lessons learned can be applied in the near term—both to address ongoing concerns with testing, and to prevent similar mistakes from hindering the effort to provide a safe, effective vaccine nationwide.
“This report leaves no question President Trump’s refusal to lead made this crisis worse. At issue now is what we’re going to do to stop him from repeating these costly mistakes—and this could not be more urgent. Skyrocketing cases across the country are already straining our still inadequate testing capacity and without leadership and a serious change of course from the Trump Administration, it’s not a question of if these issues we are still struggling with will spiral out of control—but only a matter of when,” said Senator Murray.
“This should also be a stark warning about the importance of demanding a comprehensive national vaccine plan from this Administration. Rapidly and equitably developing, producing, distributing, and administering hundreds of millions of doses of safe, effective vaccine will be a massive challenge. A plan for that kind of undertaking isn’t negotiable—it’s absolutely necessary. If the Trump Administration’s vaccine efforts are even a fraction as chaotic as their testing efforts, our country is in deep trouble.”
As COVID-19 spread across the country, the Trump Administration refused to use the power of the federal government to coordinate testing, failed to communicate with states and industry or provide clear centralized leadership, and refused to offer a detailed national plan to address these issues. The Administration’s missteps led to chaos, supply shortages, disparities in access to testing, and delays nationwide. The report further details how states struggled to get the supplies they needed, even when such supplies were promised by the federal government, and how they regularly found the federal government’s chaotic, uncoordinated response to be more of a hindrance than a help.
According to the report, “The Trump Administration’s failure to stand up an effective and efficient COVID-19 testing system has resulted in irrevocable harm to the nation’s health and economy. Had there been competent, consistent leadership from the federal government, the United States could have avoided critical delays and better addressed supply shortages, allowing testing capacity to expand more rapidly. Instead, President Trump and his Administration largely took a hands-off approach.”
In addition to looking at the failures so far, the report made clear that many challenges with testing remain, including the need for more tests before schools and workplaces can safely reopen, the lack of sufficient tests in congregate care facilities, and the fact that supply chains continue to be unreliable and insufficient to expand testing—or even maintain current capacity. The report warned new supply issues could soon become a limiting factor for testing capacity.
At Senator Murray’s direction, Senate HELP Committee Democratic staff developed the report after conducting interviews with people throughout the COVID-19 diagnostic testing landscape, including manufacturers of COVID-19 diagnostic tests and test equipment, clinical laboratories, officials in eight states and the District of Columbia, and industry associations representing manufacturers, laboratories, and public health departments and officials across the country.
Read the full report HERE and view a summary its recommendations below.
Recommendations to Improve Testing Capacity for the COVID-19 Pandemic
Recommendations to Apply Lessons Learned to Vaccine Development and Delivery
Recommendations to Ensure a Stronger Response to Future Infectious Disease Outbreaks