Thursday, September 22, 2022
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Biden’s remarks that the pandemic is over hurts efforts to save lots of lives, consultants say : NPR

President Biden says the pandemic “is over,” however public well being consultants, epidemiologists, infectious illness researchers and others strongly disagree, saying his remarks endanger efforts to save lots of lives.


Because the earliest days of the pandemic, many people have questioned, what is the endgame? The place are we within the arc of this factor? When will the pandemic be over? Nicely, President Biden had his personal reply to that query over the weekend. Right here he’s responding to Scott Pelley on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”


SCOTT PELLEY: Is the pandemic over?

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The pandemic is over. We nonetheless have an issue with COVID. We’re nonetheless doing a whole lot of work on it. It is – however the pandemic is over.

KELLY: However is it? Right here to fact-check the president is NPR well being correspondent Rob Stein. Hey, Rob.

ROB STEIN, BYLINE: Hey, Mary Louise.

KELLY: So I’d so love for President Biden to be proper on this (laughter), however what sort of response are you listening to to the president’s assertion?

STEIN: Yeah. I feel all of us would love that to be the case, however the president’s declaration of an finish of the pandemic undoubtedly caught lots of people off guard, together with, I am advised, even folks contained in the White Home. And as you would possibly guess, it is sparked a whole lot of debate outdoors 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Some agree with the president. They are saying the president is simply acknowledging the apparent. , the variety of folks getting actually sick or dying has plummeted. We’ve got plenty of assessments and efficient vaccines and coverings to maintain it that means. And life has just about returned to regular for most individuals. COVID is not dominating their lives. This is Dr. Thomas Frieden. He is a former director of the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

THOMAS FRIEDEN: I agree with the president. We’ve got a brand new illness, a brand new well being danger. That is COVID. It is unpredictable. It is killing folks. And sure, we have to do rather more to manage it and rather more to take care of folks. However the pandemic as a phenomenon that dominated our lives for 2 years – that is previous.

STEIN: However others say the president’s feedback are means off base.

KELLY: OK. Tease that one out for me. The individuals who suppose he is means off base – why?

STEIN: They are saying, look; a whole lot of individuals are nonetheless dying every single day, which makes it a significant, persevering with public well being menace. This is Dr. Celine Gounder. She’s a senior fellow on the Kaiser Household Basis, who has suggested the administration on the pandemic.

CELINE GOUNDER: If by saying the pandemic is over, the president is saying that 3,000 deaths per week or 150,000 deaths per 12 months are acceptable and that some lives matter lower than others – particularly, the aged, the immunocompromised and communities of coloration – that our new regular is that we have grown numb to those deaths, effectively, I’d ask the president, cannot we think about higher? Cannot America do higher?

STEIN: Gounder and others suspect the president’s feedback are aimed extra at serving to Democrats win the midterm elections than defending public well being and comes at a very perilous second for the nation.

KELLY: Notably perilous, you mentioned – why?

STEIN: Yeah. Nicely, you already know, for one factor, the administration simply launched what’s wanting like an uphill battle to persuade pandemic-weary Individuals to as soon as once more roll up their sleeves and get new boosters designed to guard them by way of a 3rd pandemic winter when the virus might very effectively surge once more. This is Dr. Carlos del Rio from Emory College.

CARLOS DEL RIO: I feel that it is an unlucky remark as a result of it is actually necessary that we get folks boosted with a brand new booster this fall. And if you hear a message saying the pandemic is over, that is going to make it very exhausting to get folks boosted as a result of then why would you get boosted if we already finished with this pandemic?

STEIN: And why would Congress conform to the administration’s request to spend billions of {dollars} extra to ensure loads of assessments, therapies and vaccines stay extensively obtainable?

KELLY: , all this has me considering, Rob, whose job it’s, anyway, to declare the pandemic over or not over. Can the President even do this?

STEIN: The brief reply is, no, probably not. The World Well being Group has declared the pandemic a public well being emergency of worldwide concern. And whereas the WHO is saying the world could also be getting near ending that, we’re undoubtedly not there but. Additionally, the U.S. has declared the pandemic a public well being emergency, and federal officers have signaled they don’t seem to be prepared to finish that both. Many public well being consultants are urging the administration to maintain it going as a result of it offers essential powers wanted to maintain up the struggle towards the virus.

KELLY: All proper. Maintaining the struggle for us, NPR well being correspondent…

STEIN: (Laughter).

KELLY: …Rob Stein. Thanks, Rob.

STEIN: You are welcome, Mary Louise.

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