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Exclusive-Biden directs U.S. to procure 500 million more COVID tests to meet demand-official

exclusive-biden-directs-us.-to-procure-500-million-more-covid-tests-to-meet-demand-official

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Children are seen outside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing site in Brooklyn, New York

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden is directing the U.S. government to procure an additional 500 million COVID-19 tests to help meet surging demand across the country amid the spread of the Omicron variant, a White House official told Reuters on Thursday.

The order comes on top of another 500 million tests that the White House pledged would be available to Americans in January.

“In addition to the 500 million tests that we are in the process of acquiring, today he is directing his team to procure 500 million more tests – to meet future demand,” the official said.

Biden has come under criticism for not focusing more on testing as part of his strategy for fighting the pandemic. A nationwide shortage of tests has plagued the response in recent weeks during the rampant spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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