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President Joe Biden acknowledged Wednesday that the country could have been better prepared as widespread shortages of at-home testing kits continue to hinder efforts to combat Covid-19.
Asked in a rare one-to-one interview with ABC News’ David Muir if the testing situation was “good enough,” Biden replied that “No, nothing’s been good enough.”
He said his administration has now ordered half a billion tests to send to people across the country but acknowledged that he “wished” he had thought of ordering them two months ago, before the contagious Omicron variant emerged.
It’s a shift from Biden’s answers about testing shortages yesterday, which were defensive. “What took so long is it didn’t take long at all,” he told reporters Tuesday when asked why the testing ramp-up took so long, citing the rapid spread of Omicron.
Despite mistakes, Biden tried to point to progress the administration has made on Covid over its first year. “But look, look where we are,” he said. “When last Christmas, we were in a situation where we had significantly fewer vaccinated — people vaccinated, emergency rooms were filled. You had serious backups in hospitals that were causing great difficulties. We’re in a situation now where we have 200 million people fully vaccinated.”
Biden also acknowledged that he had considered requiring vaccines for airline passengers but his team recommended that “it’s not necessary” even with Omicron.
Biden has been interviewed by local television reporters and late-night host Jimmy Fallon in recent weeks but Wednesday’s interview was the president’s first one-on-one with a major nightly news anchor in months.
Biden reiterated to Muir that he intended to run for reelection in 2024 but added the caveat that, “I'm a great respecter of fate. Fate has intervened in my life many, many times. If I'm in the health I'm in now, if I'm in good health, then in fact I would run again." He said that former President Donald Trump running again would “increase the prospect of running.”
On the continuing negotiations in Congress on his Build Back Better Act, Biden did not rule out nixing the Child Tax Credit, a sticking point with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). “I want to get as much as I can possibly get done,” he said. “I still think we’ll be able to get a significant amount of what we need to get done, done.”