Fact Check: U.S. Rejected WHO Tests Because We Usually Make Our Own (UPDATED)

Joe Biden (Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty)
Mandel Ngan / AFP / Getty

Note: This fact check has been updated. See updated version here.

CLAIM: The U.S rejected the World Health Organization (WHO) coronavirus tests because we usually make our own.


Former Vice President Joe Biden said during Sunday night’s Democrat debate on CNN and Univision that the U.S. had rejected the World Health Organization testing kits “that they have available to give 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. He said something like the best scientists in America or something to that effect.”

He was correct — but there is also more to the story.

The Washington Post‘s Carolyn Y. Johnson and Laurie McGinley reported earlier this month:

China developed its own test. Leading laboratories in Germany published their own version, which was adopted by the World Health Organization. Many countries, including the United States, developed their own tests. The traditional U.S. strategy for devising new diagnostic tests starts with the CDC.

That was existing policy — under President Barack Obama and Biden as well: it was how the U.S. developed tests for Ebola and Zika, for example.

The Post and The Atlantic noted that red tape was also a problem, and there was also a mistake in the first U.S. test developed, causing more delays.

Dr. Nicole Saphier told Breitbart News Daily last week that one of the foreign tests available to the U.S. had a 48% false negative rate — meaning that nearly half of the sick people who were tested would believe, in correctly, that they were healthy.

The Trump administration has been faulted for not using an all-of-the-above approach — using a fault test, perhaps, until more reliable ones were available — but President Donald Trump and the experts on his team are correct when they say that they were using the system already in place.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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