Anthony Fauci says 'not overly confident' with U.S. coronavirus testing capacity
ARIZONA, United States – Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he is “not overly confident” with the United States’ testing capability for the novel coronavirus.
Fauci, who is also a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said it is not enough for the US to just increase the number of tests. More importantly, he said the US needs to ensure that these tests can actually be performed.
“We absolutely need to significantly ramp up not only the number of tests, but the capacity to actually perform them, so that you don’t have a situation where you have a test but it can’t be done because there is not a swab, or because there isn’t extraction media, or not the right vial,” Fauci said on Thursday, April 23, in an interview during the virtual summit TIME 100 Talks: Finding Hope.
“I am not overly confident right now at all that we have what it takes to do that. We are getting better and better at it as the weeks go by…. We are doing better and I think we are going to get there, but we are not there yet,” he said.
Fauci also cautioned against an abrupt reopening of America, saying it is not like a “light switch” that you can turn on or off. He also warned of a resurgence of cases. (READ: Hundreds protest against U.S. virus rules amid spreading resentment)
As of April 21, the US has more than 800,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, with nearly 45,000 deaths.
“We must have in place the capability when we do start cases to come back and I'll guarantee you we will. We'll be seeing cases. If we have in place the capability to identify by testing, isolate, contact trace, get people out of circulation, that’s called containment. If we are capable of doing that effectively, we should feel some good confidence that we can slowly move on. If we don’t have that in place, we better be really careful as we move forward.”
The physician-scientist, who has maintained a calm and objective approach in the middle of the pandemic, has repeatedly caught the ire of President Donald Trump, who earlier tweeted about the doctor’s ouster. But for Fauci, this is not an issue.
“I meet with the president literally every day. There was no way he was going to do that because he had no intention of doing that. I mean he tweeted that out, but as he said publicly when they asked him about that, that’s not even on the table,” Fauci said. (READ: Angry Trump denies plan to axe coronavirus doctor but signals new fights)
“My job always is – and I’ve always done it and I will continue to do – is to give advice on the basis of evidence and science.” – Rappler.com