President Joe Biden said he believes the Covid-19 pandemic is “over” in an appearance on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” but acknowledged the US still has a “problem” with the virus that has killed more than 1 million Americans.
“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with Covid. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. It’s – but the pandemic is over,” Biden said.
The US government still designates Covid-19 a Public Health Emergency and the World Health Organization says it remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. But the President’s comments follow other hopeful comments from global health leaders.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said in a news briefing last week that the end of the Covid-19 pandemic was “in sight,” and that the world has never been in a better position to end the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Last week, the number of weekly reported deaths from Covid-19 was the lowest since March 2020,” Ghebreyesus said. “We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We’re not there yet, but the end is in sight.”
Last month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adjusted its Covid-19 guidance to urge the nation away from measures such as quarantines and social distancing and instead focus on reducing severe disease from Covid-19. But the agency says some people, including those who are older, immunocompromised, have certain disabilities or underlying health conditions, are at higher risk for serious illness, and may need to take more precautions.
There were about 65,000 new Covid-19 cases reported each day over the past two weeks, data from Johns Hopkins University shows, and reported cases are dropping in almost every state. Across the United States, about 400 people are dying every day from Covid-19. Although official case counts are far from representative of true levels of transmission, forecasts published by the CDC say that new hospitalizations and deaths will hold steady for the next month.
For people hospitalized for Covid-19, the risk of dying fell to the lowest it’s ever been during the Omicron wave, according to a study published last week by the CDC. The researchers suggest that there were several contributing factors to the improved mortality risk: high levels of immunity, both from vaccination and previous infection, advances in treatments and properties of the Omicron subvariants that made them less likely to cause disease.
This story is breaking and will be updated.