(NewsGlobal.com)- President Joe Biden is claiming ignorance as to why his administration was so far behind in responding to the massive baby formula shortage in the United States.
On Wednesday, the president said he wasn’t made aware of how serious the situation was until April. Biden said his team didn’t brief him on the potential for massive baby formula shortages for nearly two months.
That statement, though, goes in contrast to what some formula manufacturing companies also said this week. Executives of companies said this week they were aware of the “general impact” that the shutdown of the Abbott Nutrition laboratory in Michigan would have on the immediate supply of baby formula in the U.S. That shutdown occurred in mid-February.
Abbott was one of the companies that did not attend the virtual roundtable the White House hosted this week.
In response to the comments from the company executives knowing about the potential impact, Biden said:
“They did, but I didn’t. Well, here’s the deal. I became aware of this problem some time in — after April — in early April, about how intense it was. And so, we did everything in our power from that point on, and that’s all I can tell you right now. And we’re going to continue to do it until we get the job done.”
Karine Jean-Pierre, the new press secretary for the White House, said that the Biden administration immediately worked to address the Abbott Nutrition laboratory. However, she had no explanation for why the message wasn’t communicated properly to Biden himself.
She added that the president is “frustrated” by the ongoing problem that many families across the country are facing. She said recently:
“We have been doing this whole of government approach since the recall. We have been working on this for months, for months. We have been taking this incredibly seriously.”
Jean-Pierre further said that Biden was satisfied with the response from the Food and Drug Administration. Just last week, though, Robert Califf, the commissioner of the FDA, said his agency’s response to the problem was “too slow” and that “suboptimal” decisions were made.
One way the Biden administration is responding to the crisis is through a program they’re calling Operation Fly Formula. Through it, the country is importing infant formula from other countries.
The Biden administration is also using the Defense Product Act to significantly increase the domestic production of the formula to increase supply. The problem, though, is that none of these actions were taken until the middle of last month.
As part of that program, Kendamil baby formula is being shipped for free from London by United Airlines. Next week will see a third and fourth shipment being sent, and it will carry the equivalent of approximately 3.7 million eight-ounce bottles.
Bubs Australia is also sending the equivalent of approximately 4.6 million of those same bottles of infant formula to America by the end of next week.
In the meantime, regulators in the U.S. have come to an agreement with Abbott to help them re-open their facility. Even after that happens, though, it will likely take months for their formula to stock shelves.