Newswise — In widely covered remarks during an interview with 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley, President Biden claimed, “the pandemic is over.” Biden elaborated, adding, “we still have a problem with COVID, we’re still doing a lot of work on it, but the pandemic is over. If you noticed, no one’s wearing masks, everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing, and I think this is a perfect example of it.”
According to the Washington Post, Biden’s remarks caught some senior officials off guard, particularly since the U.S. government has started its fall vaccination campaign. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced more relaxed COVID-19 guidelines last month, the agency specifically said that the pandemic was not over in a press release issued on August 11th. Therefore, this statement has earned a rating of “Half True.”
With the rollout of boosters of life-saving vaccines, new treatments, and a large population already infected, the U.S. is in a less vulnerable place than it was in 2020. However, the death toll, while lower than before, is still at around 400 deaths per day from COVID-19 in the U.S. Many health experts say we’re not out of the woods yet.
“Saying that the pandemic is over has much larger and more serious ramifications, it means we take away resources allocated by Congress and other agencies. We must be careful about saying it is over. We still need resources to continue vaccination and to address vaccine hesitancy.” says Bernadette Boden-Albala, MPH, DrPH, Founding Dean and Director of the UCI Program in Public Health.
The end of masking restrictions and relaxing of other major guidelines has given many Americans a sense of moving on from the national health crisis that has festered for more than two years. Biden’s remarks, though perhaps an oversimplification, reflect national sentiment. However, COVID-19 is still very much evident in our U.S. population, and will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
“This is in great part due to human behaviors and motivations,” says Halkitis, “including subpar vaccination uptake, which continues to place all of us at risk for infection.”