FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Thomas Donohue
Chester County’s $13 Million Political Blunder Costs Us All…
WEST CHESTER – The recent report from the Philadelphia Inquirer highlighting the county’s botched $13,000,000 purchase of COVID-19 antibody detection tests paints an alarming picture of malfeasance and political graft.
In April, Chester County was lauded as the first county in the Commonwealth to procure antibody detection tests. While the effort was undoubtedly well intentioned, today, 57,000 of these unused tests sit in county storage. In the county’s haste to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Democratic-controlled Board of Commissioners made the rash and irresponsible decision to award a no-bid contract to a politically connected Malvern firm, Advaite. Advaite was formed with limited capital and with the aim of developing therapies for rare eye complications and cancer treatments. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Advaite transitioned to manufacturing antibody tests. These tests were rapidly produced in the absence of an “emergency use authorization” from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Chester County became the sole customer of Advaite and signed a $20 million deal, ultimately paying $13.2 million for 102,000 ineffectual tests.
Early on in the administering of tests, medical professionals warned county officials as to potential issues, including over 6,000 suspicious test results. Rather than correct their mistake, county officials engaged in a cover up, refusing to notify recipients of faulty testing indicating they likely had contracted COVID-19 when they had not. This misconduct led to the resignation of at least one public health official who had acted as a whistleblower.
Most troubling from the Inquirer’s investigative reporting is the connection between Advaite and political campaign contributions made to Democrat Senator Andy Dinniman, who connected Advaite with county officials. It is unfathomable that the Democrat-controlled Board of Commissioners awarded such a large no-bid contract for non-returnable, nonrefundable tests lacking basic evidence of accuracy to a relatively new pharmaceutical startup with no experience in antibody testing.
Speaking as an experienced medical professional as well as a former Chester County Coroner, Dr. Gordon Eck stated, “This was such an unnecessary failure on so many levels. Not only did we purchase inaccurate tests, but we overpaid for those tests to the tune of $11,600,000! This was money that could have gone to helping families and small businesses that have suffered greatly during the pandemic.
But dollars wasted may not be the greatest failure. Each of these faulty tests had a patient attached to it who was contacted, stressed, and had their lives disrupted unnecessarily. These fellow residents may have incurred additional expenditures of money and time, consuming limited health care resources to untangle the bogus test results.”
Chester County’s actions evidence massive hubris. One would not expect the Commissioner’s Office to have the education, experience, and competence to evaluate a non-FDA approved test that will affect lives. But one person who did, Dr. Renee Cassidy, someone I’ve known through my time as coroner to be of the highest integrity and clinical competence to assess the County’s COVID response, was ignored and thus resigned in protest.
A crisis doesn’t create one’s leadership style, it reveals it. Sadly, in this case, we learned that our Democrat leaders placed politics over patient well-being. We deserve better.