WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s seemingly clumsy statement that the COVID-19 pandemic is “over” could complicate several issues for the administration.
Officials are encouraging people to get a boost ahead of a potential fall and winter wave of infections. They have asked Congress for $22.4 billion in emergency funding for the coronavirus. The government was expected to extend a public health emergency, causing millions of Americans to continue using Medicaid. And Biden’s controversial decision to wipe out the student debt of millions of Americans rests on the Department of Education’s ability to ease the hardships of a national emergency.
White House officials have not publicly commented on Biden’s comment since it aired on TBEN Sunday.
What Biden said: In an interview with TBEN’ “60 Minutes,” Biden was asked if the pandemic is over. He said yes, but added, “We still have a problem with COVID.”
COVID victims: Nearly 3,000 Americans still die from COVID-19 every week.
What the WHO said: At a press conference last week, the head of the World Health Organization said more needs to be done until the pandemic is “really over”.
What the White House Said Earlier: On September 6, Dr. Ashish Jha, White House Covid-19 Coordinator: “The pandemic is not over yet.”
What’s going to happen?
Congress decides whether to approve billions of dollars in additional funding for the coronavirus that Biden has asked for. Republicans have insisted that unspent funds from a previous COVID-19 package be reused. The government has said the funding is needed to prepare for future peaks.
In anticipation of a possible surge this fall and winter, the government is encouraging people to take booster shots targeting both the original virus and its most recent variants, called BA.4 and BA.5, which now affect both the US and the US. dominate the world. If uptake is comparable to the rate at which the public is being vaccinated against the flu, an estimated 100,000 hospitalizations could be prevented, according to the administration.
The government has previously said it would give states 60 days notice before ending the COVID-19 public health emergency that has helped millions of Americans obtain health insurance through Medicaid. The current end date of the emergency is October 15. But that would be extended because states weren’t told otherwise.
Biden’s comment, which conflicts with the data and what his COVID-19 coordinator said earlier this month, does not appear to reflect a change in policy, but an artless way of saying the worst of the pandemic is over. .
Still, some public health experts said his comment is dangerous and problematic. And Republicans jumped to say that it means no more student loan debt forgiveness, no more money needed, and no vaccinations should be necessary.
what they say
“The pandemic is over,” Biden told “60 Minutes. “We still have a problem with COVID. We are still working on it. It is – but the pandemic is over. when you notice that no one is wearing masks. Everyone seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing.”
“I understand what he was trying to say, but such rhetoric is hurtful, dangerous and scientifically untrue.” tweeted dr. Jerome Adamswho served as Surgeon General to President Donald Trump.
“No way. With all due respect, @JoeBiden – you’re wrong. Pandemic isn’t over. Nearly 3,000 Americans die from #COVID19 every week,” tweeted dr. Eric Feigl-Dingan epidemiologist and co-founder of the World Health Network.
“We’re not there yet, but the end is in sight,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Sept. 14.
Biden admitted last night that the COVID pandemic is over. In other words, there is no ‘continuing emergency’ to justify his student loan proposal.” tweeted Senator Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
Is the pandemic really ‘over’?
Public health experts say the country is in much better shape than it was a year ago, but they are not ready to declare victory just yet.
“It’s far too early to say the pandemic is over,” said Dr Philip Chan, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor at Brown University. “If we’re not on our guard, it comes back to bite us.”
The US continues to report a high death rate from COVID-19 and sub-optimal vaccine uptake, experts say, as the country approaches another projected wave of winter. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that there have been more than 13,000 deaths and 2.1 million reported cases in the past month, which experts say may be an undercount given that many infections go unreported in home testing.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 34% of eligible Americans received their second original COVID-19 booster, which experts say doesn’t give much hope for the new ommicron-specific booster.
“Almost 500 people (a day) are still dying from a vaccine-preventable disease, and we still don’t have the vaccine uptake we’d like to see,” said Jodie Guest, professor and vice chair of the epidemiology department at the University of California. Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. “I don’t think that’s a level where I’m willing to say (the pandemic) is over.”
A pandemic is, by definition, an outbreak of a disease in multiple countries around the world, Chan said, and some countries are still reporting high levels of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Want to know more?
‘Just now starting to know what it is’: Why doctors struggle to identify treatments for long-term COVID
‘Massive Global Failures’: Experts call on world leaders for COVID response. Here’s what went wrong.
Can we eradicate COVID?: That’s a hard no, according to Dr. Anthony Faucic
More: Back to school may rekindle grief after COVID. Here’s how one camp helps.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden’s comment about pandemic complicates matters. Here’s how.