A Republican senator wants to know how a multi-million dollar contract for President Biden’s plan to send 50 million covid tests to Americans went to a California firm that manufactures a customized vodka bottle that can be programmed to say ‘I Love You.’
The Pentagon on Tuesday finally announced the first contracts for an administration plan to send out home covid tests that has faced repeated questions about who will make the tests, when they will be delivered, and how Americans will get them.
A top Health and Human Services official has confirmed that the first companies to be awarded a government contract aren’t making any new covid tests, and are instead warehousing previously made tests.
One such company is Medea Inc. of Pleasanton, California. The firm got into the business of personal protective equipment only at the start of the pandemic. Its first business offering was a vodka bottle equipped with special programmable LED lights and a bluetooth connection.
The bottle is equipped with six pre-programmed messages: ‘Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary, Congratulations, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and for year-round toasts: ‘I Love You.’
The government has contracted with Medea Inc., which markets a vodka bottle equipped with lights that can be customized, for coronavirus test kits
That background alone prompted questions from Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, the top Republican on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at a Senate hearing.
‘So the best I can find – you mentioned 50 million doses having been contracted,’ he told Dawn O’Connell, Health and Human Services assistant secretary for preparedness and response Tuesday.
‘I can identify – 27 million [tests] out of two companies media Medea and Atlantic Trading. Neither one of them are manufacturers of tests and I believe the third one, Revival, is not a manufacturer of tests. Medea actually came to fame with importation of vodka, and tying cell phones to vodka. And like a lot of other companies that got in the PPE business in 2020, with some nominal FEMA contracts. Why should we have any confidence in these contracts, if in fact, we’re dealing with companies that don’t manufacture anything?’ he asked.
‘We’re giving them $190 million contract for about 14 million home tests, and their expertise is importation of vodka,’ said Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) at a hearing
The company got its start marketing the vodka. After the pandemic, it began contracting with the government to provide protective gear
The Biden administration is rushing to procure 50 million tests to send to Americans amid a nationwide shortage
HHS official Dawn O’Connell confirmed that the government went to companies that have, but do not produce, tests as it begins its effort to procure 50 million coronavirus tests
A Pentagon contracting release said: ‘DOD Awards Contracts to Purchase COVID-19 Antigen Over-the-Counter Test Kits in Support of POTUS’ 500 Million Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests’
Can it say ‘NEGATIVE?’: Purchasers can program the bottle to give a customized message
The other firm Burr mentioned, Atlantic Trading LLC, is based in Texas. According to a government procurement database, it got its first big contract in 2021 for $1 million worth of gear. Its first government …….