Natasha Hakimi Zapata Original Pandemic

Biden’s Failure to Provide At-Home Covid Tests Looks Extra Ridiculous Arriving From the U.K.

Why is the Biden administration only now making rapid antigen tests available for free when the British government has been doing so for months?
[Martin Fisch / CC BY 2.0]

By Natasha Hakimi Zapata / Original to ScheerPost

After two years without being able to travel home from London, England to Los Angeles, Cali. to see my family, I finally arrived in a chaotic U.S. in time for the holidays amid the Omicron wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although I’d been preparing for a difficult return thanks to the new variant, I had been eager to see my family now that I’m finally vaccinated against Covid-19 and that my partner, who holds a British passport, was able to visit alongside me after more than a year of travel restrictions barring Europeans. What I hadn’t been expecting, however, was to find family and friends desperately trying to procure rapid antigen tests as many of them developed Covid symptoms and wanted to protect their loved ones and community over the holidays. 

You see, in the U.K., despite chronic mismanagement of nearly every aspect of the pandemic—thanks to Conservative Boris Johnson’s right-wing government and their interest in profiteering from the pandemic rather than saving as many lives as possible—two bright spots have been the National Health Service’s rapid vaccine rollout and its provision of at-home lateral flow (also known as rapid antigen) testing kits. While there is a vast network of tax-funded rapid antigen and RT-PCR testing sites throughout the U.K., for months, the NHS has also been mailing kits of seven at-home Covid-19 tests to anyone who requests them free of charge, once a day. These kits are also readily available without charge in pharmacies and community centers for those who could not order via mail. 

It has become common in recent months before any gathering with friends or family, especially those who might be more vulnerable to severe effects when contracting Covid-19, to request that visitors take a lateral flow test. Whenever we visited my partner’s family, or attended dinners or gatherings, each of us would open the little blue and white boxes that felt like rudimentary chemistry sets to take a sample for our lateral flow tests. Although these tests are most accurate when symptomatic, they allowed Britons to catch infections safely and quickly at home before spreading Covid-19 further. Most people I know in the U.K. who have contracted Covid-19 have found out first via an at-home lateral flow test, later confirming with a RT-PCR test—although this is no longer required. It has also allowed the British government to track community spread more accurately and quickly, given that each test also has a QR code that allows you to report the results directly to the NHS. 

As my partner and I packed for our trip to Los Angeles, we each placed a kit in our baggage, conscious that my mother’s health conditions meant we had to be extremely careful around her. Although we understood that the tests aren’t 100% accurate (they’re about 90% accurate) and we would still need to take other measures such as mask-wearing and distancing, we thought it would provide us with some peace of mind as we visited with her and other family members. When we arrived, several family members and friends let us know they’d been experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, but many were unable to obtain a rapid antigen test to confirm, and due to the most recent wave, community testing was slammed, with results of RT-PCR tests often taking more than a few days to arrive. Pharmacy after pharmacy I visited had signs on their doors alerting customers to the fact they had run out of rapid antigen tests, and I saw posters on lamp posts (like the one in the picture below) as well as posts on websites like Craigslist announcing second-hand sale of Covid-19 tests. 

Even before the shortage, the costs of rapid antigen tests have proven prohibitive to many people. Binax, a commonly used brand of tests, runs at $23.99 + tax for a box of two rapid antigen tests. As Robert Mackey noted in The Intercept in December, the Biden administration’s reluctance to follow in the footsteps of the British government and others seems to have everything to do with our for-profit health system. Mackey writes, 

“…Americans are still paying more for health care than their counterparts in countries with socialized medicine or single-payer systems.

Experts like [Michael Mina, a physician who teaches at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health] and [Jennifer Nuzzo, lead epidemiologist for the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center] have urged the U.S. government to use its leverage to press test-makers to sell the kits for between $1 and $5 each. But because the Biden administration has tried to work within the constraints of America’s profit-driven system, commercially available rapid tests are considerably more expensive for consumers and often hard to find in stores. Abbott Laboratories’ BinaxNOW kit, for instance, can be purchased by the government for $5 each but costs consumers $11.99 a test at CVS or Walgreens.

The U.S. government’s reticence to use emergency powers to get the testing kits made for less contrasts sharply with the situation in Europe, where more efficient government-run health care systems are the norm.

In September, for instance, the Biden administration struck a deal with Walmart, Amazon and Kroger to sell Abbott’s tests at the discount price of $7 each for three months. But Reuters reports that the British government is paying about $5.80 each for similar test kits (which cost about $2 each to make) that it distributes for free.”

Mina also noted early on in the pandemic that “the spread of Covid-19 could be dramatically curtailed if just half of the U.S. population tested themselves every four days with at-home rapid kits that could cost the U.S. government as little as $5 billion.” Activists have also been calling on the Biden administration to make at-home rapid antigen tests free for months, and after a wave of anger aimed at White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki who “scoffed at the idea of sending Americans free rapid tests” in early December, the White House finally capitulated and changed its policy. President Biden has now committed to make 500 million at-home rapid antigen tests available to Americans at the start of this year. This measure, which could have been implemented months ago, comes after tens of thousands more lives have been lost in the latest wave of Covid-19 and the U.S. inches closer and closer to 1 million deaths from the coronavirus.

The U.S. government has finally chosen to use its considerable leverage to negotiate and purchase 500 million rapid antigen tests via a bidding process so that the government can mail tests directly to Americans—as the British government does—via a new government website that has yet to be unveiled. There will also be 50 million tests made available to community centers. In addition, the Biden administration is also forcing health insurance companies to cover the costs of the tests. NPR reports: 

“Under the new policy announced by the White House, individuals covered by a health insurance plan who purchase an over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic test that has been authorized, cleared or approved by the Food and Drug Administration will be able to have those test costs covered by their insurance beginning this Saturday.

Insurance companies and health plans will be required to cover eight free over-the-counter at-home tests per covered individual per month, according to White House officials. For instance, a family of four all on the same plan would be able to get up to 32 of these tests covered by their health plan per month. […] The Biden Administration says it is “incentivizing” insurers and group health plans to set up programs that will allow Americans to get the over-the-counter tests (PCR and rapid tests) directly through preferred pharmacies, retailers or other entities with no out-of-pocket costs.” 

It’s unclear then whether uninsured Americans, many of which are undocumented and low-wage essential workers, will still have to pay for tests out of pocket or if they’ll be able to receive them through the government website. It should be noted that the U.K. also experienced both rapid antigen and RT-PCR test shortages over the holiday period, but was able to make more tests available at different moments via the NHS, and at no point did I ever see signs announcing second-hand tests for sale. In fact, on the contrary, I received notifications from local text groups in my borough of people helping others procure free tests in their time of need by either giving their neighbors tests they had at home or alerting them to new supplies available locally—always free of charge. 

As professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research Dr. Eric Topol noted in December, “500 million free rapid tests by request sometime in January is totally inadequate. We need several billion of these, and have needed them for over a year to help prevent spread. It’s good that the administration has finally responded to the loud voices of frustration, but it’s [exemplar] of too little, too late.” Topol also called for KN95 masks to be distributed to all households as “the US government can purchase these for very low cost (i.e. pennies) and get them widely distributed as has been done in other countries to enhance protection.” 

Needless to say, the testing fiasco I’ve witnessed while visiting my home country has only left me more disillusioned with our broken-beyond-repair for-profit health system as, yet again, universal health care models like the U.K.’s NHS have proven more effective, even under the charge of a right-wing blowhard like Johnson. It’s also left me furious at a Democratic administration that seems unable to pass public health measures that have been proven to work elsewhere in time to save its citizens lives. One of my greatest hopes for 2022 is that, as the pandemic rages on, Biden will learn from this most recent mess and act when he is urged to. What can I say, a woman can dream. 

12 comments

  1. Since the US health services will not help you in any way if you catch Covid unless you become a big profit source by becoming deathly ill, what exactly is the point of going to the doctor or taking a Covid test at all? I ask this seriously and don’t expect any answer because there is none…..

    1. Good point. Now that January 1st has rolled around & reset the ‘deductible’ clock on everyone’s crappy insurance …
      what a wonderful time to over pay some ENORMO-Health Care CORPORATION so that an overworked person in a white coat can peek @ our vitals for 9-minutes and recommend that we should prob’ly go straight home if we got one.

      -J.Joslin ( union electrical worker/

  2. So, many points here that are, well, teetering on rubbish, but it’s your story, and that will just have to sit as “your story.”

    Hmm, so, if there is a need for rapid tests, you think maybe you might have some verve and posit the idea that, well, we need to nationalize these corrupt outfits. That we need to stop the mercenary and war (corona-DARPA-virus) profiteering? Have you not also wondered about saber rattling with Russia and China, and threats of nuclear war, well, being just as urgent as Omega-cron?

    Hmm, there are ways to treat a coming on virus, and those treatments are magically out of the media’s mush-stream. REALLY.

    There is a product in Vancouver, Canada, nitric oxide nasal spray, that takes out 99.99 percent of SARS-CoV2-DARPA and a host of other flus and colds. SaNoTize. Vitamin D3 and magnesium loads, daily, as well as, oh, shoot, I suppose this gets scrubbed with too much homopathic crap listed.

    I wonder about those viruses we have inside. I wonder about those viruses in the animals we cuddle. All those rafts for viruses to move around on. In the air, wind. Puddles, sewer drains, all of that.

    Arguing about Biden and his redhead press flak, that is getting you, well, exactly one inch in the marathon to end capitalism and to take over these war lords and capital mercenaries who make a buck anyway they can, even as your cold, stiff body gets stiffer in some hospital ward.

  3. Collette Martin, a practicing nurse of seventeen years, spoke at a Louisiana Health & Welfare hearing earlier this month about what she has seen in the hospital system during the COVID pandemic.

    Collette says she and her colleagues have witnessed “terrifying” reactions to the COVID shots, but their concerns about the vaccines are being ignored and dismissed.

    Collete went on to say that vaccine-injury report databases like VAERS are so little used that most doctors and nurses don’t even know that it exists, let alone how to file a report.

    “The Majority of our nurses, nurse managers, and some doctors do not even know what VAERS is. I’ve spoken to our chief medicine managers and other nurses on why we’re not reporting to VAERS, and the most common response is: ‘What is VAERS?‘.”

    As if this were not bad enough already, she then said that none of the hospitals are reporting any data, meaning that even if someone was investigating, there would be no data to investigate.

    “This is not just where I work. I know many nurses, friends and other local hospitals in Southeast Louisiana that say the same thing.”

    However, what she says about the potential long-term effects of the jabs is shocking.

    “We are not just seeing severe acute [short term] reactions with this vaccine, but we have zero idea what any long term reactions are. Cancers, autoimmune [disorders], infertility. We just don’t know.

    We are potentially sacrificing our children for fear of maybe dying, getting sick of a virus, a virus with a 99% survival rate.”

  4. Ahh, how’s this working out?

    United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released a report that received barely any attention: the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2021, notably subtitled Unmasking disparities by ethnicity, caste, and gender. ‘Multidimensional poverty’ is a much more precise measurement of poverty than the international poverty line of $1.90 per day. It looks at ten indicators divided along three axes: health (nutrition, child mortality), education (years of schooling, school attendance), and standard of living (cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing, assets). The team studied multidimensional poverty across 109 countries, looking at the living conditions of 5.9 billion people. They found that 1.3 billion – one in five people – live in multidimensional poverty. The details of their lives are stark:

    Roughly 644 million or half of these people are children under the age of 18.

    Almost 85 per cent of them reside in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

    One billion of them are exposed to solid cooking fuels (which creates respiratory ailments), inadequate sanitation, and substandard housing.

    568 million people lack access to proper drinking water within a 30-minute round trip walk.

    788 million multidimensionally poor people have at least one undernourished person in their home.

    Nearly 66 per cent of them live in households where no one has completed at least six years of schooling.

    678 million people have no access to electricity.

    550 million people lack seven of eight assets identified in the study (a radio, television, telephone, computer, animal cart, bicycle, motorcycle, or refrigerator). They also do not own a car.

    The absolute numbers in the UNDP report are consistently lower than figures calculated by other researchers. Take their number of those with no access to electricity (678 million), for example. World Bank data shows that in 2019, 90 per cent of the world’s population had access to electricity, which means that 1.2 billion people had none. An important study from 2020 demonstrates that 3.5 billion people lack ‘reasonably reliable access’ to electricity. This is far more than the absolute numbers in the UNDP report, but, regardless of the specific figures, the trend lines are nonetheless horrific. We live on a planet with greatly increasing disparities.

    1. And as we know, the descriptor of “access” to anything covers a lot of ground and doesn’t mean people can actually get electricity. Our politicians constantly laud themselves for gettingmore people “access” to healthcare, which really means they get to go into massive debt for their “access”. “Access” often does not equate to realisticly “having” the thing they are talking about

  5. The CDC has officially acknowledged to the FDA that the RT-PCR test has been flawed and unreliable (as in routinely producing false positives up to 80, 90, 100% to inflate numbers of covid cases, aka the casedemic, for a supposed disease so undeadly, with a 99.9% survival rate, that such corrupt means must be used to frighten people into submission). Whether this bogus test will in fact be discontinued remains to be seen, but what we now have instead with these handy-dandy kits is further fraud invading homes (a convenience for those who continue to impose a state-of-emergency state of siege upon people being colonized into the new normal world order of the war on/of bioterror).

    To date, there has never been any valid scientiifc demonstration from authorities like the CDC and WHO of the actual existence of any virus or variant causing disease, perhaps because these same authorities have been so busy perpetrating not only fake cases but fake covid death counts, as by discontinuing records of flu and pneumonia so these and other comorbidities contributing to death, predominantly in the elderly as is normal, may be classified as covid deaths, thanks to sleight-of-hand instructions from authorities to count those (falsely) tested ‘with’ covid as having died ‘from’ covid, without any autopsy performed.

    CDC director Walensky has even officially acknowledged that at least 75% (an underestimate) of deaths ‘from’ covid have had multiple comorbidities, but no one seems to be paying attention to such admissions of fraud, and guilt, as the dominant propaganda narrative of this scamdemic keeps moving us along from one lie to the next, no matter how contradictory, absurd, and destructive its Orwellian nature. So now we have another test for something that doesn’t exist, flawed in its very nature (and also anything but free given yet more funding from the public purse for the government’s criminal deals with the Pharmafia, and deep state). Perhaps its at-home ritualization of the biosecurity society will condition people for the self-administration of ‘vaccines,’ as with quantum dot tattoos already waiting in the wings (compliments of R&D from MIT, the Gates Foundation, and the deep state).

    The biggest lie of all with covid-19(84) remains that what is being injected into people are ‘vaccines,’ when in fact, again officially acknowledged as by Moderna’s chief medical officer Tal Zaks who refers to “hacking the software of life,” captive populations are being subjected to genetic and digital engineering in what is the largest Frankenscience experiment in eugenics of all time. And as with previous methods of madness in this field of population control, depopulation is at the center of this agenda. Already, upon the first full year of the ‘vaccination’ campaign, excess mortality of an unheard-of 40% has been reported by insurance actuarial tables, while the suppression of injury and death counts from the injections, as by the ridiculously inadequate Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), continues.

    Stop heeding these useful covidiots like the fear freak here in this pathetic piece of propaganda, compulsively testing herself and family and spreading the lies, and misdirecting fools who follow her own confusion as to the real plague laying us waste. Wake up to and rise up against the death march the self-appointed “masters of mankind” (Adam Smith) have set us on with bioweaponized war against humanity. The philanthropist billionaries and ruling class interests who have so generously contributed to ‘public health’ have been funding our own demise, now in motion with coordinated institutional strategies from Big Media/Big Tech censorship (and forthcoming false flags of cyberterrorism?) and control of communication, to Big Bank crashing of economies (imminent again with shock-doctrine rises in interest rates?) for digtial currency and control of social credit, to Big Pharma culling the herd (coming disguised as ‘pandemic’ in waves of excess death as the ticking time bombs of the kill shots take their toll) and control of mutant cyborgs to replace human resources for the masters.

    Meanwhile, the state is on high alert for ‘domestic extremists’ from special task forces with the DHS, DoJ, FBI, and other alphabet agencies of repression to the Pentagon running military training exercises for ‘our protection’ from this manufactured enemy threat, just in case the psychological warfare needs to be supplemented further with more persuasive means of coercion. And perhaps the CDC itself has been eyeing its authorized use of martial law should its medical tyranny upon the manufactured state of emergency that is the covid coup needs to move into the all-out totalitarian police state these organized crimes against humanity are marching us toward.

    1. Adam Smith wrote a hymn to the prevention of monopoly (The Wealth of Nations). He was totally against allowing any entity (including the British system of awarding ‘contracts’ to certain ‘companies’). Perhaps you should go back an read Smith. Please, don’t blame Adam for the neoliberal distortion of his legacy.

    2. “And as with previous methods of madness in this field of population control, depopulation is at the center of this agenda. ”
      So, we need more people? And who announced that vaccines are part of population control?
      But regarding population, anyone who has ever visited the third world can see, first hand, how joyously people live ( on train platforms, or near landfills, where they can earn a substantial income picking through trash). Overpopulation not only makes life hell for the poorest of the poor (witness the masses trying to migrate to the US or Europe), but the world is already using far more resources than is sustainable. The biosphere is finite. Any schoolchild can understand that a limited carrying capacity means there cannot be unlimited population expansion.

  6. hysteria insecurity neurosis….why test for a mild flu where 99.7% recover. USA leads in deaths due to obesity and the medical mafia rejecting cheap treatments successfully used in Europe, South America and of course the well known ageism that infects americans—well documented by the Parsonian Philip Slater, the Marxist, Christopher Lasch, and others—David Riesman, Morris Berman, Geoffrey Gorer. Riesman identified USA as the only “peer group society”. on earth….obvious: as Pierre Boudiou wrote: “anything that does not surrender to capitalism in USA is considered archaic and old fashioned”….Twenge and Campbell consider mobile phones computers to be responsible for the narcissism epidemic. Gorer observers that americans were “thinking through their computers”. in the 1960’s. Marxists Richard Sennet and Christopher Lasch described americans as “inner directed narcissists”. in the 1970″s

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: