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Government’s “Free” COVID-19 Test Kits Collecting Dust (Guest: Phil Kerpen)

March 22, 2022

The government is sending out free COVID-19 tests in the mail, despite the fact that many people accept that COVID is over.

The government is sending out free COVID-19 tests in the mail, despite the fact that many people accept that COVID is over. Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment, discusses what this government distribution is really costing taxpayers (billions of dollars), what made the federal government believe it could distribute a consumer product better than the private sector, concerns about the validity of the tests, why no one pushed back on this idea, why ideas like this help inflation soar, and what impact this could all have on the mid-term elections.

Early on in the pandemic, giving people rapid tests to do at home would have made sense because people could continue on with their lives with little disruption to the economy. Now, it’s become apparent the lockdowns did nothing to stop the virus.  Kerpen and John Fund wrote an op-ed on the subject for Spectator World.
 

Excerpts from the op-ed:

Phil Kerpen: “What happens when a government thinks it can distribute a consumer product more efficiently than normal retail channels? Boondoggle and failure come to mind…. Two months ago, President Biden announced plans to buy 500 million at-home Covid test kits and mail them to anyone who wanted one. The Department of Defense put in orders for $1.275 billion of tests from iHealth, $340 million from Roche and $306 million from Abbott…. We’re not sure why Biden thought he could distribute a consumer product more efficiently than retail chains, but his purchase had the predictable consequence of diverting nearly all supply from the retail shelves to a new government program, run with the typical efficiency of the US Postal Service.”

Phil Kerpen: “As the tests finally do arrive, many Americans will ask the obvious question: how much are the kits worth at a time when Covid cases are plunging? Even if you feel sick — not nearly as likely now — at low prevalence the tests lose their diagnostic value…. The iHealth test, which has started to show up in some mailboxes, has a false positive rate in its validation testing of just under 2 percent — it correctly identified 102 of 104 negative samples. In DC, PCR tests are running at about 2 percent positive now, which means a positive on the free Biden 
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Health Care
Author
AnneMarie Schieber is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Health Care News, Heartland's monthly newspaper for health care reform.
amschieber@heartland.org @HCPolicy