Is the Covid-19 pandemic really “over”?

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US President Joe Biden said he believes the Covid-19 pandemic is “over”, although the country continues to experience around 400 deaths a day. In an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday, the president acknowledged that the U.S. still has a “problem” with the virus — which has killed more than a million Americans — but said he believes the “pandemic is over.”

The message prompted White House officials to quickly clarify that Biden’s comments did not lead to a change in strategy: The US government still designates Covid-19 a Public Health Emergency, even though the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidelines last month. for people to return to most normalcy.

But the elderly, the immunocompromised, those with certain disabilities or underlying health conditions remain at greater risk of serious illness and may need to take extra precautions.

Biden’s remarks have already received some political blowback. It’s only been two weeks since his administration launched a campaign to urge Americans to get booster shots and to renew efforts to convince Congress to spend another $22.4 billion on Covid relief efforts. However, Republican leaders told CNN they would be willing to spend money on a pandemic that is now “over.”

While some have interpreted Biden’s comments as a cynical intervention ahead of the upcoming US midterm elections, it follows a trend of other optimistic comments from world health leaders. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, suggested last week that the end of the pandemic was “in sight”, noting that the number of reported weekly deaths was the lowest since March 2020. “We have never been in a better situation to end the pandemic,” he said.

But what does “ending the pandemic” mean? Pandemics are not like sports matches, they do not start and end with the referee’s whistle. The WHO does, however, have a formal way of determining the beginning and end of a pandemic: an 18-member expert committee makes the decision, as it has done before with influenza, polio and other diseases. However, it’s easier to tell when a pandemic starts than when it ends, according to infectious disease epidemiologist Caroline Buckee at the Harvard School of Public Health. “There will be no scientific threshold. There will be consensus based on opinions,” Buckee told Science magazine.

Meanwhile, China continues to pursue its zero-Covid strategy, a policy that has again come under scrutiny this week after a bus carrying residents to a quarantine facility crashed on Sunday, killing at least 27 people. Authorities said the bus was carrying 47 people from Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province, to a region more than 150 kilometers away. Around 2:40 in the morning it overturned on a hilly stretch of highway

Soon after, a photo circulated on social media showed the bus driving at night, with the driver wearing full hazmat gear, with only his eyes uncovered. In another photo, the crushed truck was sprayed with disinfectant by a hazardous worker. According to government figures, only two people have died from the virus in the province since the pandemic began, raising further questions about China’s uncompromising policy.

And while China and the US continue to take starkly different approaches to the pandemic, a report by the Lancet Covid-19 Commission condemned the world’s response to the disease, calling the death toll – which the WHO says is more than 6.4 million – “both a profound tragedy and a massive global failure.” on multiple levels.” They mentioned the poor preparation of the government, the lack of global cooperation and the impact of misinformation on citizens who have faced public health measures.

• A recent study of more than 6 million people aged 65 and over found that those with Covid-19 had a significantly higher risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease within a year of contracting the virus. The study does not prove that Covid is the cause of Alzheimer’s, but it supports previous research linking Covid infection and cognitive function.

• Former first lady Melania Trump was “excited by the coronavirus and convinced Trump was screwing up,” according to an upcoming book. Trump recalled telling her husband, “You’re blowing this,” as she tried to convince him to take the pandemic more seriously. “This is serious. It’s going to be very bad,” he said, according to the book by New York Times White House correspondent Peter Baker and New Yorker staff writer and CNN Global Affairs analyst Susan Glasser. “You worry too much,” the president recalled saying, dismissing her concerns and saying: “Forget it.”

Q: Is there a link between covid and mental health?

A: You may have a 50% higher risk of developing prolonged covid if you suffer from common psychiatric problems, a recent study has found.

People who identified as having anxiety, depression or loneliness, or who felt very stressed, were more likely to have prolonged Covid, according to research published this month in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Symptoms of prolonged Covid can include breathing problems, brain fog, chronic cough, extreme fatigue, changes in taste and smell, and difficulty performing daily life functions that can persist for months (even years) after the infection clears the body.

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Stay up-to-date on your Covid vaccinations this fall, especially if you’re 50 or older.

That’s because the virus continues to pose a risk to people in this age group, who have been disproportionately affected by the severe consequences of Covid.

Between April and June, people over the age of 50 accounted for the majority of Covid-19 hospitalizations (86%) and hospital deaths (96%), according to a study released Thursday by the CDC.

Additional data from the CDC shows that even for those over 50 who received the original two boosters, the risk of hospitalization was less than a quarter of what it was for those unvaccinated in July. A single dose of the updated Covid-19 vaccine is recommended at least two months after the initial two-dose vaccine series or the last booster.