Biden’s thoughts on the pandemic were recorded during the president’s visit to the 2022 North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Wednesday. The 2019 convention was the first since the 2020 and 2021 shows were canceled due to the COVID pandemic.
According to Politico, Biden’s remarks on COVID were not part of his prepared remarks.
The U.S. president noted growing public fatigue with COVID measures. “No one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape,” Biden said. Yet the president warned the U.S. still has “a problem with COVID,” and said the government was “still doing a lotta work on it…but the pandemic is over.”
The White House is in discussions with Congress about assigning tens of billions of dollars to pay for vaccines, treatments, and tests. Officials close to Biden have warned that without new funding, the United States may no longer be able to provide free vaccines and treatments.
Biden’s remarks evoke those of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical adviser. Fauci told National Public Radio in August that COVID would become “more of an endemic situation” by December.
While COVID is “not going to be eradicated, and it’s not going to be eliminated,” Fauci said, the disease will become “something we can live with and doesn’t disrupt us.”
The World Health Organization predicts that the COVID pandemic will be over soon. During a press conference on Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated, “The end is in sight” for the pandemic. According to the WHO, daily COVID deaths are approaching all-time lows.
Yet Tedros cautioned against complacency, saying that while the world “can see the finish line,” governments still needed to vaccinate at-risk individuals and monitor new variants. “Now is the worst time to stop running,” Tedros said.
In Sunday’s interview, the president discussed the “profound” impact of COVID. “Think of how [COVID] has changed everything. You know, people’s attitudes about themselves, their families, about the state of the nation, about the state of their communities,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scaled back their recommendations for those exposed to the coronavirus through close contact in mid-August, instead recommending daily testing and mask use rather than isolation.
Major US corporations are also removing COVID restrictions, with major Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs removing their last remaining COVID restrictions on in-person work.
As of Friday, the United States had a seven-day daily average of 60,800 COVID cases and 390 deaths as it emerges from a summer wave caused by the BA.5 variant. According to the CDC, 67.7% of Americans have received two doses of a COVID vaccine, with approximately 32.9% receiving one booster shot.
Pfizer and Moderna recently received FDA approval for bivalent vaccines that target both the original strain of the coronavirus as well as the new BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.
The White House now predicts that COVID vaccines will be administrated annually, similar to flu shots. However, health experts are concerned that comparing COVID to the flu is a mistake, as annual boosters will not provide enough protection to keep up with the rapidly mutating coronavirus.