White House garbles messaging on whether it saw omicron spread, testing problems coming

While President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have both indicated that they were caught off guard by the severity of the omicron spread, other administration officials have insisted that this is not the case.

CDC DIRECTOR CONTRADICTS BIDEN’S OMICRON TESTING DEFENSE: ‘THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE ANTICIPATED’

“This is what we have been preparing for,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told Fox News on “Special Report” Tuesday. “There have been doubling times of this virus in other countries that have had the virus before us in one-and-a-half- to three-day range. So this is exactly what we anticipated.”

President Biden answers questions after speaking about the status of the country's fight against COVID-19 and the omicron variant, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, on Dec. 21, 2021. 

President Biden answers questions after speaking about the status of the country’s fight against COVID-19 and the omicron variant, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, on Dec. 21, 2021.  (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

This was after Biden said the same day that the inadequate number of available tests was not a result of the administration’s failure, but due to an unforeseeable rise in cases.

“It just happened almost overnight just in the last month. And so, it’s not a failure, but an alarm bell went off. I don’t think anybody anticipated that this was going to be as rapidly spreading as it did,” Biden said when asked if the current state was due to an administration failure.

WHITE HOUSE CLARIFIES HARRIS’ STATEMENT THAT THE ADMIN ‘DIDN’T SEE’ DELTA, OMICRON VARIANTS ING

Biden then said he did anticipate the demand.

“There was a big, big rush, and I knew that was coming,” he said.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention speaks during an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, in Atlanta.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention speaks during an interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Biden’s remarks came days after Harris told the Los Angeles Times the administration was caught off guard by the omicron variant and the delta variant before it.

“We didn’t see delta coming. I think most scientists did not — upon whose advice and direction we have relied — didn’t see delta coming,” Harris told the newspaper in an interview published Friday. “We didn’t see omicron coming. And that’s the nature of what this, this awful virus has been, which as it turns out, has mutations and variants.”

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during an interview with The Los Angeles Times in her ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House Complex on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021, in Washington.

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during an interview with The Los Angeles Times in her ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House Complex on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021, in Washington. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The administration then offered a clarification, insisting that the White House was not taken by surprise by the existence of variants.

“The Vice President’s comments referred to the exact kind of mutation,” said a statement by a Harris adviser obtained by Fox News on Saturday. “The administration knew mutations were possible, it [is] the reason we ordered extra tests, extra gear and extra PPE.”

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