U.S. testing stalled for six weeks. A small German lab made 1.4 million tests in that time.

The United States’ struggles, in Landt’s view, stemmed from the fact the country took too long to use private companies to develop the tests. The coronavirus pandemic was too big and moving too fast for the CDC to develop its own tests in time, he said.

“There are 10 companies in the U.S. who could have developed the tests for them,” Landt said. “Commercial companies will run to an opportunity like this.”…

First, the CDC moved too slowly to tap into the expertise of academia and private companies such as Landt’s, experts said. For example, it wasn’t until last week that large companies such as Roche and Thermo Fisher won approval from the Food and Drug Administration to produce their own tests…

“It took [the CDC] a while to come up with the test, honestly,” said Alex Greninger of the University of Washington.

His lab had developed its own test and began seeking approval to use it on patients on Feb. 18. But that test, along with others that had been developed in various academic centers and hospitals, could not be used on patients until the FDA relaxed its testing rules on Feb 29.

He noted that many of the state public health labs had also figured out how to use the CDC test properly — by tossing one of its components — but were not allowed to actually do so until the FDA approved the workaround that same day.