Has US tested more than rest of world combined?

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Trump holds print-out of map showing countries rated as best-equipped to cope with an epidemic

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In a video clip posted by the White House on Twitter, President Trump has made several claims about testing policy in the United States, an issue over which his administration has faced significant criticism.

We’ve been checking these claims out.

Claim one

“We have tested more than all countries put together… the testing has been incredible now, and to a level that nobody’s seen.”

President Trump says the US has carried out more tests than every other country in the world combined.

The latest data shows that a total of 6,026,170 tests have been carried out in the US.

This is more than any other single country.

However, it’s nowhere near as many as the rest of the world combined.

Just adding together the totals of Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK gives you more than the US.

The US also still lags behind several other nations in terms of testing per capita.

Exact testing comparisons can be difficult as countries count testing in different ways.

But looking at the latest data available, the US has carried out about one test in every 55 people. Italy has performed around one in every 30 people, Spain around one in every 45, and Australia around one in every 45.

Claim two

“We had old-fashioned tests that didn’t work – they were really obsolete – they didn’t work, they were broken.”

President Trump says his administration had a “broken” test that didn’t work when first testing for the coronavirus.

He has previously said: “We inherited a broken test – the whole thing was broken.”

The US did have faulty tests initially after the White House conceded the first batch sent out by the government’s central health body produced inconclusive results.

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However, these tests were introduced in February under the Trump administration so they weren’t inherited or old.

In early March, the White House conceded the US did not have enough testing kits, but since then it has significantly ramped up testing, with the total number increasing six fold since the start of April.

Claim three

“Millions of tests – and the highest quality.”

When President Trump talks about the “highest quality” tests, it’s not exactly clear what he’s referring to. He has previously said the US tests are “better” than those used in other countries.

However, when it comes to antigen tests – tests that tell you if someone currently has coronavirus – the accuracy tends to be similar across the globe.

The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, an independent evaluator of tests, based in Switzerland, says its results “see equally good performance from companies in multiple countries”.

Antibody tests – which tell you if someone has previously had Covid-19 – have so far proved unreliable and have not been widely rolled out. So, the “millions of tests” must be the antigen ones.

There is no clear evidence that these tests in the US are any better or worse than in any other country.

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