COVID-19 Update: Biden Declares that the Pandemic is Over
The COVID-19 vaccine, first approved in 2021, has been credited with the rapid decline of coronavirus infections worldwide (Hakan Nural/Unsplash)
Biden’s recent appearance on the CBS show “60 Minutes” has sparked an uproar regarding his announcement about the state of the COVID-19 outbreak. "The pandemic is over," he said. "We still have a problem with COVID. We're still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over.” Those who viewed the show had many thoughts on the legitimacy of Biden’s statement, and others have made a point to validate it. Nevertheless, Biden's verdict on COVID-19 stands to have an impact on the lives of Americans nationwide.
What Do the Numbers Indicate?
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID a worldwide pandemic on March 11, 2020. Johns Hopkins University found that, since then, more than one million Americans have died due to the virus. In early 2022, the university stated that COVID-19 is ranked as the third-greatest cause of mortality in the United States. Dr. Megan Ranney, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, reflects similar sentiments, referencing death tolls as a counterargument to Biden’s remarks about the pandemic being over. “Is the pandemic DIFFERENT? Sure,” Ranney says in her tweet. “We have vaccines and infection-induced immunity. We have treatments. We have tests (while they last). The fatality rate is way down. And so we respond to it differently. But over?! With 400 deaths a day?! I call malarkey.”
As Ranney mentioned in her tweet, the weekly averages of COVID-related deaths are over 400, with more than 3,000 dead in the past week. In contrast, data from January 2021 indicated that more than 23,000 people passed away weekly, signifying an improvement from previous death rates.
The Impact of the Statement
The president's health experts were also taken aback by Biden's statement. According to two officials, Biden had not discussed declaring the pandemic to be over prior to the interview. Many are concerned that the statement will further erode congressional political commitment to continue the fight against COVID.
The White House had requested $22 billion from Congress to fund COVID relief. However, Biden’s alleged undermining of COVID may have jeopardized the approval from Republicans in Congress for a successful request. In a letter to Biden, Senator Richard Burr, the Ranking Member of the Senate Health Committee, expressed these concerns. “I have questions about actions your Administration is taking that do not align with your announcement,” he wrote. “Despite Americans having largely returned to normal life, which you acknowledged when you noted that attendees at the Detroit Auto Show were not wearing masks, your Administration continues to request un-offset emergency funding from Congress, enforce vaccine mandates, and maintain federal emergency declarations that cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Without a clear plan to wind down pandemic-era policies, the deficit will continue to balloon and the effectiveness of public health measures will wane as the American people continue to be confused by mixed messages and distrust of federal officials.”
What Do Experts Say?
Two days after his interview, Biden attended a Democratic National Committee (DNC) event in New York. In his speech, Biden attempted to clarify matters by referring back to his earlier statements from the “60 Minutes” interview. “The pandemic is, quote, ‘over,’ as I got criticized for saying,” Biden acknowledged. “But it basically is not where it was.” Regarding the clarification, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus mirrors Biden’s thoughts, providing his opinion through an optimistic lens. "We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic," he said at a briefing. “The number of weekly deaths continues to decline, and are now just 10 percent of what they were at the peak in January 2021."
However, Ghebreyesus also stated, “10,000 deaths a week is 10,000 too many when most of these deaths could be prevented.” Ghebreyesus asserts that while there is more normalcy now as opposed to the start of the pandemic, this isn't the time for us to be satisfied enough to label it as the end.
Supporting evidence from health specialists suggests a reversal in the downward trend in COVID-19 cases as early as next month, which might result in a surge in the upcoming winter months. The Biden administration has issued a warning that coronavirus waves could result in the infection of over one-third of the American population. Interestingly, officials assert that coronavirus outbreaks in the future will differ from those in the past. The prevalence of treatments and the population's degree of immunity should prevent deaths and hospitalizations from increasing at the same rate as infections. The final evaluation from health experts is that although the pandemic has changed — and many aspects of normalcy have returned — it is still ongoing.
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