National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said Friday there are no guarantees that the country will have exactly 1 million novel coronavirus test kits by next week.
Trump administration officials on Thursday doubled down on an earlier promise to deliver 1 million COVID-19 tests to Americans this week as states continue to report limited testing supplies and federal lawmakers express doubts about the government's timeline.
Fauci acknowledged that Vice President Mike Pence was correct when he said there has been a delay in deploying a million kits to the public, but said he "can't guarantee" that exactly 1 million will be ready for delivery next week during an appearance on the "Today" show.
"There [were] certainly some missteps in the beginning regarding getting tests our — some technical issues that slowed down the process, but now the [Food and Drug Administration] and [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] are working together to get test kits out," Fauci said when asked about concerns that the Trump administration will not reach its goal of sending 1 million COVID-19 tests as soon as possible.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters Thursday that a private manufacturer authorized to make the tests expects to ship the kits to U.S. laboratories by week's end. That amounts to the capacity to test roughly 400,000 people, given that it takes multiple test samples to confirm a result.
The number of U.S. cases has grown rapidly in the last several days after more labs started testing and guidelines for eligibility were expanded. The U.S. tally stood at about 200 cases on Thursday, including 12 deaths — 11 in Washington state and one in California.
Fauci then explained that he "can't guarantee" 1 million masks will be available next week. "That's the issue that would have to go through the FDA and the [private] companies to see if that's available. So I can not promise it, but that's what the goal is, within the next couple of weeks to get the million-plus [kits] that we have as our goal," he said.
The test kits from Iowa-based Integrated DNA Technologies are one part of the government’s effort to ramp up testing. But the U.S. has trailed other countries in rolling out tests because of problems with its test kits and because the CDC initially limited the number of eligible people.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.