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White House says it’s still working to finalize contracts for COVID-19 test orders – Metro US

White House says it’s still working to finalize contracts for COVID-19 test orders

Jen Psaki holds a press briefing at the White House
Jen Psaki holds a press briefing at the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is still working to finalize contracts for U.S. orders of COVID-19 tests but has no doubt that deals will be struck, press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday.

President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced more federal vaccination and testing sites to tackle a surge in COVID-19 driven by the Omicron variant, and said 500 million free at-home rapid tests will be available to Americans starting in January.

“We’re just working to finalize the contracts – we just announced this two days ago. But we don’t see any issue or any halt to getting that done,” Psaki told a news briefing.

Psaki reiterated that the White House expected the first set of the 500 million tests in early January, “and we expect that the rest will come in the weeks to follow.”

Amid a new surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths, Biden is drawing criticism from health experts, who are calling for more urgency, testing, masking and global vaccine sharing.

“We’ve been preparing for a range of contingencies all along throughout this process,” Psaki said. “That’s why we have had ample vaccine supply, that’s why we have had ample mask supply and why we have worked to ramp up aggressively our testing over the past few months.”

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper in Washington, writing by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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