The White House reportedly scrapped a national testing plan because the virus was mostly hitting blue states

Coronavirus tester.
(Image credit: Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

Lives likely could've been saved if the White House had focused on people rather than politics when the pandemic began, Vanity Fair reports.

Unlike other countries, the U.S. has struggled to present a unified national strategy on COVID-19 testing, and the country now leads the world both in confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths. But it reportedly had experts developing a testing plan since the virus' beginnings — and then scrapped it entirely once it appeared the virus was largely hitting Democratic states, one expert tells Vanity Fair.

Despite his lack of scientific or governmental experience, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner took charge of the testing plan and stacked a team with "bankers and billionaires," Vanity Fair writes. But diagnostic testing experts were eventually called in, and the team created a plan to tackle testing supply shortages and delays in reporting results.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

"The plan, though imperfect, was a starting point," Vanity Fair writes, and "would have put us in a fundamentally different place" today, one person who worked on it said. But it faced resistance from the top of the White House, where Trump reportedly worried high test numbers would hurt the economy and his re-election prospects. And perhaps most disturbingly, one member of the team suggested there was no point in rolling out the plan because the virus seemed to be hitting blue states, an expert told Vanity Fair. "The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy," the expert said.

All of that might explain why Kushner was so hopeful just a few months ago. Kathryn Krawczyk

See more

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.