Health officials say COVID is still a threat, despite Biden saying ‘pandemic is over’
President Joe Biden mildly shook up the medical sphere this week when he said on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
“We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over. If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape,” the president said.
But many in the political and medical arenas weren't entirely in agreement. Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week that the U.S. is still not where it needs to be with the virus, noting that there are still about 400 deaths every day.
"Are we literally, are we scientifically, are we mathematically over COVID-19 and the pandemic's over? No, we're not. We are not by any means,” says Dr. Perry Halkitis, dean of Rutgers School of Public Health.
Halkitis says that people still need to be cautious.
“My worry is when people hear the pandemic is over, they translate that to mean there is no more disease. And there’s very much disease still,” he says.
Halkitis says the virus doesn’t outsmart people – people have allowed it to spread.
"We always think that the virus is doing tricks on us, but in fact, the virus is just a virus. Just like some genetic material in a protein shell, right? It doesn't have a brain, doesn't have a nervous system, doesn't have emotion. It's not a villain saying, ‘…I'm going to get this person!’” Halkitis says.
But he says there is one potential silver lining.
"We have a bivalent booster now. If people really are focused and go and get this booster, we may not see the escalation we might see in the absence of a booster, so that's hopeful and promising. But as you know, that's dependent on human behavior and human behavior is never very logical,” Halkitis says.
He recommends people consider getting the new booster along with their flu vaccine as it heads into peak season for upper respiratory infections.