HealthPresident Biden said the pandemic is over. What do...

President Biden said the pandemic is over. What do medical experts say?


“The pandemic is over,” President Joe Biden has declared — stirring debate in a rustic the place few pay a lot thoughts to COVID-19 anymore whereas the illness nonetheless kills a whole lot of People a day.

Although the president’s remarks Sunday on CBS’ 60 Minutes drew jabs from some quarters and puzzlement from others, they elevate a query medical specialists have struggled to reply clearly: When will we all know the COVID-19 pandemic is over? In some ways, that relies upon the way you outline it.

“We’re nonetheless in a pandemic by any clear definition of it, however we’ve chosen not to reply to it psychologically and in the way in which we reside our day by day lives,” mentioned Dr. John Swartzberg, scientific professor emeritus of infectious ailments and vaccinology at UC Berkeley’s Faculty of Public Well being.

“The pandemic in folks’s minds, if not epidemiologists’ definitions, implies that the world has stopped to cope with this,” he mentioned. “Our society isn’t turned the wrong way up attempting to cope with it (anymore). So I believe this can be a political and psychological tackle the pandemic, versus an epidemiological one.”

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on WednesdayFebruary 10, 2021. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks on the continuing COVID-19 pandemic on WednesdayFebruary 10, 2021. (Mark Makela/Getty Photos)

Right here’s the place People are with that definition. A Sept. 13 Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index ballot discovered the nation has “largely — although not utterly — moved on from the pandemic,” with 46% having “returned to their pre-COVID lives” and simply 37% sporting a masks exterior the house generally.

Reported circumstances have been declining since July, although they continue to be nearly 3 times the extent in April, in line with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Precise numbers undoubtedly are greater on account of unreported infections confirmed by means of at-home checks.

However the CDC stories almost 400 folks a day are dying from COVID-19, nearly twice the extent of July 2021.

Biden’s remarks got here as he walked the ground of the North American Worldwide Auto Present in Detroit, the primary held since 2019. Requested if the pandemic is over, the president — strolling with out the black face masks he wore on the marketing campaign path and so typically in public appearances since — mentioned sure.

“We nonetheless have an issue with COVID, we’re nonetheless doing loads of work on it,” Biden mentioned. “However the pandemic is over. If you happen to discover, nobody’s sporting masks. All people appears to be in fairly fine condition. And so I believe it’s altering. And I believe this can be a good instance of it.”

“Want this was true,” Dr. Eric Topol, a heart specialist and director of the Scripps Analysis Translational Institute, responded Monday on Twitter, noting Biden additionally advised in June 2021 that the nation would rejoice freedom from COVID on Independence Day. What adopted had been successive waves of infections and deaths.

“What’s over,” Topol mentioned, is the president’s and “our authorities’s will to get forward of it, with magical pondering on the brand new bivalent boosters.”

Stanford Medical Faculty professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, an creator of the Nice Barrington Declaration that opposed lockdowns to cut back unfold of the virus in favor of insurance policies targeted on defending these at highest threat, responded that the president’s remarks had been overdue.

“Pres. Biden is true,” Bhattacharya tweeted. “The pandemic emergency is over. Analysis for higher remedies ought to proceed, however the lockdowns, restrictions, and fear-mongering must cease.”

However Dr. Bob Wachter, who chairs the medical division on the College of California-San Francisco and has chronicled on Twitter his efforts to keep away from the virus, which contaminated his spouse, mentioned the reply is extra advanced.

“Clearly the risk is much decrease than it was,” he tweeted to his 280,000 followers Monday, and “folks have the means to remain pretty protected,” though many are selecting to not. However “sooner or later,” he added, “we have to shift from an emergency footing to a sustainable long-term technique.”

Santa Clara County Well being Officer Dr. Sara Cody mentioned there’s unlikely to be any official declaration of the pandemic’s finish, and that it extra possible will turn out to be obvious in hindsight. However whereas “we’re transferring in the correct path,” she mentioned “we’re nonetheless shedding an unacceptable variety of folks to COVID.”

The director-general of the World Well being Group, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, mentioned final week that “we’ve by no means been in a greater place to finish the COVID19 pandemic, however provided that all international locations, producers, communities and people step up and seize this chance. In any other case we run the chance of extra variants, extra deaths, disruption and uncertainty.”

Jennifer Taylor will get that. She is a registered nurse within the emergency room at Kaiser Oakland who lives along with her sister with a weakened immune system on account of most cancers therapy,. She mentioned Monday that she simply noticed two extra sufferers admitted with COVID. “It feels early to name it over,” she mentioned.

“It’s fairly exhausting on immunocompromised folks to be abruptly calling it over with 400 folks nonetheless dying each day,” mentioned Taylor, who nonetheless wears a masks indoors and avoids crowded indoor occasions.

However Alex Bell, the proprietor of Snow White Espresso Bar in Oakland, not wears a masks.

“So far as each day interactions,” Bell mentioned, “it’s been over for eight or 9 months.”


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