The White House‘s lead Covid chief said that the pandemic is not over, contradicting statements made by President Joe Biden last month.
Dr Ashish Jha, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator responded to faltering booster uptick rate by warning Americans that the pandemic is ongoing.
His words counter that of President Biden, who told 60 Minutes last month that it had ended – though he would walk back his comments in the following days.
This is not the first time leading US officials have flip-flopped on the pandemic.
Earlier this year, Dr Anthony Fauci told PBS Newshour the pandemic was over before going back on his words days later.
The rollout of the bivalent booster shots has largely been a failure to this point.
Most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that only 11 million Americans have receive the jab so far.
The lack of booster uptake seems to have had little affect on the spread of cases, though.
Covid cases have plummeted over the past two months – a period where the opposite trend would have been expected.
On August 3, America was recording 118,000 cases per day. That figure has dropped to 40,000 as of October 11.
An expected BA.5-variant fueled surge over summer did not materialize either.
Despite this, Dr Jha is pushing for Americans to receive the new Covid jab before Halloween at the end of the month.
Dr Ashish Jha (pictured) said that the pandemic is not over during a briefing Tuesday, contradicting President Joe Biden’s words last month
Covid cases have plummeted in recent months, falling from over 100,000 per day in August to around 40,000 per day in mid-October. An expected summer surge of cases did not materialize
‘The President was very clear. Covid is not over, there is a lot of work to do,’ Dr Jha said at a White House press briefing Tuesday.
‘We still have 300 to 400 Americans dying every day, tens of thousands of people getting infected every day, there is a lot of work to do.
‘What we know is that if we want to keep people safe and protect them from serious illness, which is obviously priority number one, the number one thing that people need to do is get vaccinated.’
Jha urged Americans to get the additional shot before Halloween so it would be fully effective in their body for Thanksgiving gatherings.
This contradicts statements by President Biden last month, who told CBS’ 60 minutes: ‘The 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, and so I think it’s changing.’
Dr Jha used the briefing to urge Americans to receive the bivalent booster shot – which the White House touted throughout the summer.
Dr Fauci warns of a ‘twindemic’ this winter as CDC data shows influenza cases have quadrupled in two months
Dr Anthony Fauci has warned of a ‘twindemic’ this winter as cases of the flu surge in the US – quadrupling over the past two months.
Latest official data shows there were more than 1,000 patients with flu in the week ending October 1 — up 303 per cent compared to the first week of August.
This is a vast underestimate because the US does not routinely test for influenza in the same way as Covid.
Test positivity — the share of swabs for the virus that are coming back positive — has risen from 0.49 per cent to 2.5 per cent in the same time.
Dr Fauci said Monday that the nation should keep its guard up in the coming months as cases of both the flu and Covid are expected to rise.
Cases and hospitalization for the flu and related illnesses often surge in cold weather months were people spend more time indoors – which makes it easier for viruses to spread.
But Covid cases are currently plummeting in the US. The nation is averaging 42,000 daily cases, dropping more than 60 per cent from the 100,000 per day average in early August.
The flu largely vanished in recent years as viral interference from Covid and pandemic-related restrictions and mask orders stopped its spread.
America’s overall vaccination rate is relatively high, with 80 per cent of the overall population and 90 per cent of adults having received at least one shot.
The additional booster doses have never proved to have appeal among the American population, though.
The third doses were rolled out the public just over a year ago, yet still only 50 per cent of the population has gotten the shots.
A large portion of those who did receive the third jab did so not when they first were made available during fall either, instead waiting till the end-of-the-year Omicron surge where it appeared the shot was necessary.
Rollout of the the fourth doses, targeted towards Americans 50 and older, has been abysmal as well.
The CDC reports that only 38 per cent of eligible Americans have received the second booster.
Despite this, the impact the virus has had on the life of Americans has faltered throughout the year.
After the Omicron-fueled surge began to recede in March, case figures have steadied.
A high point was reached over summer at around 140,000 cases per day – a figure dwarfed by the over 800,000 case-per-day mark reached in January.
Deaths never reached the same devastating totals they had reached in previous surges as well, lingering between 300 to 500 cases per day throughout summer.
This spurred many to put the pandemic behind them – even some of the nation’s leading health officials.
Dr Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said in April to PBS Newshour that: We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase.
‘Namely, we don’t have 900,000 new infections a day and tens and tens and tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths. We are at a low level right now.
‘So, if you’re saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are. What we hope to do, I don’t believe — and I have spoken about this widely — we’re not going to eradicate this virus.’
He would walk the comments back after backlash from others in the field.