Trump campaign brags about defective test kits that were never used


The government had planned to send tests to 30 countries but later dropped the plan because the kits were flawed.

Donald Trump's reelection campaign sent out a press release this week that boasted about his "decisive actions to combat the coronavirus."

The April 27 release included a timeline of Trump's supposed bold steps to keep the country safe.

Among other things, the campaign stated that, on Feb. 12, the United States, under Trump's leadership, "shipped test kits for the 2019 novel coronavirus to approximately 30 countries who lacked the necessary reagents and other materials."

But the Trump administration never actually sent those kits.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, initially announced on Feb. 12 that the test kits had been sent to 30 countries, as the Trump campaign described. Later that day, however, she walked back the comment, telling reporters that the shipment had in fact been canceled because of a flaw in the test that resulted in "inconclusive" results.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The press release was initially flagged by American Bridge, a progressive opposition research group.

Widespread testing issues have plagued the Trump administration since the beginning of the crisis.

The tests that the administration had planned to ship to other countries were the same flawed tests sent to health officials across the country. Because of the flaw, coronavirus testing in the United States was significantly delayed and reliable tests were not shipped out to states until Feb. 28, according to the Washington Post.

On March 10, Vice President Mike Pence vowed that "more than 4 million more tests" would be available by the end of that week. That did not happen.

According to the COVID Tracking Project, which gathers the most recent testing numbers from across the United States, 5.7 million tests have been conducted in total since early March.

An April 6 report from Trump's own Health and Human Services Department showed that hospitals were in dire need of more test kits.

"Hospitals reported that severe shortages of testing supplies and extended waits for test results limited hospitals' ability to monitor the health of patients and staff," the report stated.

Despite the numerous problems, Trump has repeatedly praised his handling of the crisis, making misleading or altogether false claims about testing more broadly.

On April 21, Trump vastly overestimated the amount of testing that had been conducted in the United States.

"I think I read yesterday a report that we've done more than everybody — every other country — combined," Trump said.

At the time, there had been about 20 million coronavirus tests conducted worldwide, only 4 million of which were conducted in the United States.

As recently as Tuesday, Trump claimed that the country would soon be conducting millions of tests every day.

When a reporter asked him if he was "confident" that the United States would "surpass 5 million tests per day," Trump responded with an emphatic yes.

"Oh, well, we're going to be there very soon," he said. "I mean, I don't have the exact numbers ... [but] we're really doing a great job on testing."

He claimed that the administration "hasn't been given the kind of credit that it deserves."

Adm. Brett Giroir, the administration official leading the nation's testing efforts, contradicted Trump that same day, telling TIME that there was "absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even five million tests a day."

On Wednesday, Trump tried to walk back his earlier answer, telling reporters, "Somebody started throwing around 5 million ... I didn't say 5 million."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.