Dr. Leana Wen agreed with President Joe Biden’s assertion that the pandemic “is over” in an op-ed published in The Washington Post.
In a CBS’ “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday, Biden discussed the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. with correspondent Scott Pelley.
“We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over,” Biden said.. “If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing.”
The following day, The Washington Post published an editorial contradicting the president’s comments, arguing that the “pandemic is surely not over.”
“The pandemic is still raging — in the sense that a dangerous virus is infecting, sickening and killing people, mutating to survive and haunting the globe,” the op-ed read in part. “The pandemic has shifted — and normalcy has returned in many ways — but it is not over.”
Citing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) tracker, The Washington Post noted that the seven-day moving average of daily deaths from COVID-19 in the country is 400 and has been in this range since April.
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The Washington Post also pointed out that the average daily cases in the U.S. have increased to 60,000 compared to that during Spring.
“Weighed down by the virus, average life expectancy of Americans fell in 2020 and 2021, the sharpest two-year decline in nearly 100 years,” the op-ed read.
After the opinion’s publication, Wen, an emergency physician at George Washington University and a contributing medical columnist for The Washington Post, hit back on Monday with her own editorial where she agreed with Biden’s comment.
“He’s right,” Wen wrote. “By multiple definitions, the pandemic is over. That doesn’t mean that the coronavirus is no longer causing harm; it simply signals the end of an emergency state as covid has evolved into an endemic disease.”
Wen explained in her op-ed that a pandemic is an event that severely affects daily lives by altering how people work, go to school and socialize, which was the case when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March 2020.
“Many individuals, once vaccinated, began resuming their pre-pandemic activities. Others, like my family, waited until younger kids could receive the shots,” Wen wrote. “By now, the vast majority of Americans have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 or both.”
The number of COVID-19 cases globally has decreased by 28 percent, according to the WHO’s weekly report on Sept. 14. Between Sept. 5 and Sept. 11, the WHO logged 3.1 million cases globally, much lower compared to its past week’s report. The number of deaths related to the virus also decreased by 22 percent, with 11,000 recorded.
“For most of the country, the pandemic is effectively over because it is no longer altering people’s day-to-day lives. To them, covid has evolved from a dire deadly disease to one that’s more akin to the flu,” Wen wrote.
“It’s still something people want to avoid, and they’ll take basic steps to do so, such as getting an annual vaccine. Some might choose to take extra precautions, such as masking in indoor settings. But the societal end of the pandemic has already arrived, a sentiment reflected in Biden’s comment.”