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Is Covid “under control” in the US?Experts say yes

Promise: “I will never raise the white flag of surrender. We are going to defeat this virus. I promise you, we will get it under control.”

President Joe Biden declares that the coronavirus-19 pandemic is over in a “60 Minutes” interview on September 18.

“We’re still dealing with the coronavirus — we’re still doing a lot of work on it,” Biden said. “But the pandemic is over.”

Critics counter that the U.S. still kills an average of about 400 people a day from the virus, i.e. Nearly 30,000 Americans remain hospitalized, and many others are suffering from “prolonged covid” symptoms caused by previous infections.

Two days later, Biden admitted that despite the negative reaction from some, the pandemic “is basically not where.” White House Press Secretary Carine Jean-Pierre Calls coronavirus “easier to contain.” Past experience means “we know what works,” she said.

PolitiFact has been tracking Biden’s 2020 campaign promise that is closely related but distinct from what Biden said in “60 Minutes.” During the presidential campaign, Biden said: “I will never raise the white flag of surrender.” We have to defeat this virus. I promise you, we’ll get it under control. “

Biden’s language stance is safer by promising to keep the coronavirus ‘under control’ rather than saying ‘the pandemic is over.’

There is still some debate among public health experts about whether the pandemic is “over” — or whether it can. There is no official arbiter in making that decision, and the word “over” implies a finality that does not Too good to describe a pathogen that exists in some form indefinitely.

However, we found broad consensus among infectious disease experts that the pandemic has been “under control” so far.

When Biden took office, physical distancing was widely practiced, schools were often virtual, public events were rare or tightly controlled, and few Americans were vaccinated. Today, many Americans Life is closer to pre-pandemic normal, nearly all schools are open, concerts and restaurants are well attended, and travel is back to normal.

“The country clearly has made tremendous progress on covid -19 since President Biden’s election,” said Jen Kates, senior vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at KFF. “I might say we are in a pandemic ‘transition’ phase — from pandemic to pandemic post period. But it’s a continuum, not a cliffhanger, it’s a pandemic, day after day,” Kates added.

Chief Medical Officer, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials Marcus Plescia added that in terms of what the federal government can offer to make it happen, the promise to control the pandemic “is certainly well on its way and may even be realized.

Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University, agreed that “the emergency phase of the pandemic is coming to an end.” We are now in an ongoing struggle – call it a truce with the virus. “

Pandemics inevitably become “endemic,” medical experts say, meaning pathogens are here to stay, but there really aren’t widespread emergencies.

“We will always have to manage COVID-19 in the healthcare system,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at UCSF. “Unfortunately, while we can keep the death toll very low, , but I don’t think we’ll ever get to zero deaths from covid-19. “

The number of people dying from covid in the U.S. is lower today than it was during the pandemic, and has been since the spring.

Notably, The number of “excess deaths” also fell. A measure of deaths that exceed the long-term average for that time of year. Weekly excess deaths nationwide have been in the range of zero to 5,000 since the spring, before Peaked at 20,000 to 25,000 per week in four surges since the start of the pandemic.

Recently stabilized at some of the lowest rates of the pandemic. Even this level may overstate the virus Routine testing at admission often finds asymptomatic cases and is largely consistent with the patient’s reason for admission.

Gandhi pointed to data from Massachusetts hospitals showing that , the majority of hospitalized patients who tested positive for the new coronavirus had only “incidental infections”, and only one-third of them were mainly treated for diseases related to the new coronavirus.

Experts pointed out that even in Hospitalizations and deaths remain disproportionately high at these reduced levels, and they warn infections could rise as winter forces people indoors. Still, they put the availability of vaccines and treatments and the need to move away from living with the virus. The knowledge gained in more than two years is attributed to the possibility that the darkest days of the pandemic are over.

“I am not at all concerned that we will return to hospitalizations and hospitalizations during the worst of the pandemic. The scale of deaths,” said Brook Nichols, a mathematical modeler of infectious disease and health economist at Boston University School of Public Health. “We could be going into a seasonal Covid-19 vaccine situation, possibly the same vaccine as the flu, These seasonal vaccines are critical to avoiding hospitalizations and deaths during the flu and coronavirus seasons. “

No major new variants have emerged since omicron emerged in late 2021, and even the most recent omicron subvariant, BA.5, has long been dominant in the US strain, which has been prevalent since early July.

That doesn’t mean new, more dangerous strains won’t emerge. However, public health experts take solace from recent patterns. Big 2022 Part-time trends suggest that a flurry of increasingly confusing and vaccine-evading variants is not inevitable. If a major new variant does emerge, mRNA vaccines like those made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech could be updated fairly easily .

Vaccination remains a pressing issue, though. About one-third of Americans are not fully vaccinated, and an even smaller percentage receive boosters. Plessia “The main determining factor right now is not the response of the president or the federal government — it’s the response of the public.

“I think there’s disease fatigue, vaccine fatigue, and mask fatigue,” said Dr. George Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “People are just fed up with coronavirus and trying to hope for it.” gone, which is unfortunate because it didn’t go away. We’re tired of it, but it’s not tired of us yet.

Some experts warn that just because the pandemic is ‘under control’ doesn’t mean the costs will be small.

“Currently available vaccines provide The extent of protection, especially for the most vulnerable, is limited in duration, and the non-lethal consequences of covid may still have knock-on effects on population health,” said Babak Javid, associate professor in the UCSF Department of Experimental Medicine. From Disease Control and The Centers for Prevention defines chronic covid as symptoms that persist for three months or more after contracting the virus. Modest restrictions. That doesn’t mean people haven’t lost loved ones or aren’t feeling the lingering effects of the virus; apparently, they have.

What else does Biden need to do?

Jobs still remain, says Biden and his government experts Do.

Several public health experts are urging Congress to pass Biden’s request for $22 billion in coronavirus-related funding. The White House has put the deal despite low case levels now Funding is seen as a way to prepare for a resurgence. It recommends funding for testing, research on new vaccines and treatments, preparation for future variants, and global aid. However, Biden’s public announcement that the pandemic is “over” may have would reduce the likelihood of congressional approval.

Gandhi said the federal government should better target those most at risk of severe breakthrough infections, especially the elderly and immunocompromised Provide boosters and treatments.

Schaffner urged more effective and unified messaging, working to remove any political innuendo. “I hope the federal government will come together on who is the main messenger,” he said. , providing consistent, clear, and simple information.​​​

He described the pandemic as “over,” but long-term statistical trends have been moving in the right direction, and vaccines and treatments should dampen the severity of future waves. Out of these The reason, experts say, is that it’s fair to declare the pandemic “under control”. We’ll re-evaluate our rating if circumstances change, but for now, this will receive a promise.

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