Joe Biden says the Covid-19 pandemic is finally over.
President’s Statement on CBS 60 minutes In an interview that aired over the weekend, Biden prepared to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II across the Atlantic.
“The pandemic is over,” he said. “There’s still a problem with Covid. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over. If you notice, no one is wearing masks.”
It seems like an announcement that should have been made months ago, more than two years since the virus first reached U.S. shores. But, like many other countries, the United States continues to grapple with reports of new Covid-19 transmission cases and deaths from the virus, making the president’s claims questionable.
The question now seems to be changing a bit: If it is unclear whether the spread of the virus is completely preventable, when will the emergence and spread of a new virus cease to be considered a “pandemic”?
To date, vaccines against the virus and its subsequent variants (Omicron, Delta, etc.) have proven ineffective in preventing the contraction or spread of the disease, while remaining the single best defense against its deadliest symptoms. Yet the general public, including entire communities, remains unvaccinated and resistant to the idea, which means there is still plenty of room in the US for the coronavirus to spread and cause serious harm.
If you follow the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) definition of a pandemic, it seems unlikely that the U.S. will shake off that label anytime soon. The agency defines the term as “an epidemic of a disease or other health condition that occurs over a wide area (multiple countries or continents), usually affecting a substantial portion of the population.”
There is no doubt that Covid is still occurring “in a wide area” and affecting “a significant portion of the population”. On average, hundreds of Americans are still dying from the virus every day, with those numbers jumping into the thousands earlier this year and at its peak in late 2021. The coronavirus continues to trap communities and economies around the world, causing problems in global supply chains; just earlier this month, Chinese officials imposed a Covid lockdown on Chengdu, one of the largest cities in western China, and two others remain in place similar restrictions.
There is no sign that the US death toll will drop to zero, or at least much lower. There is also no sign that disruptions to global supply chains directly caused by the spread of the virus will ease anytime soon. So it’s unclear if the president actually believes the pandemic is over, or if he’s trying to do something else — completely redefine the term.
Notably, the only evidence the president has declared the pandemic “over” is the fact that many Americans have abandoned public health measures such as wearing masks and social distancing in favor of the protection provided by vaccines — or in many cases, they own immune system. However, some continued to condemn such statements, saying they were a slap in the face to people whose lives were still deeply affected by the pandemic itself or the “long-term coronavirus,” which the Centers for Disease Control refers to as symptoms lasting months or days after infection. year of the new coronavirus.
Yet many vulnerable Americans continue to be socially isolated because of the virus, and may indeed feel left behind by the president’s insistence.
Their advocates gathered outside the White House on Monday to picket the presidential residence to demand help for Americans with coronavirus symptoms.