“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with Covid. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. Yes, but the pandemic is over,” Biden said in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday. . The comments caught the administration off guard, according to the two officials.
Last month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention adjusted its Covid-19 guidance to move the nation away from measures like quarantines and social distancing and instead focus on reducing serious illness from Covid-19. But the agency says some people — including the elderly, the immunocompromised, those with certain disabilities or underlying health conditions — are at higher risk of serious illness and may need to take extra precautions.
Officials, including the president, have previously talked about a new phase of the virus, but specifically said it’s not over yet. Biden outlined a transition in the White House’s approach to the virus in March, saying at the time that Covid was not over, but that it “doesn’t control our lives”.
“Because of the strategy we implemented last year with vaccines, testing, treatment, etc., we’re at a new point in this pandemic. It doesn’t mean that Covid-19 is over; it just means that Covid-19 is no longer in control of our lives. That’s what it means,” he said at the White House on March 30.
And in April, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s medical adviser, told the PBS NewsHour that the U.S. is “certainly, right now, in this country, out of the pandemic phase.”
“We are not over the pandemic. Don’t let anyone get the wrong interpretation that the pandemic is over, but what we are in is another phase of the pandemic,” said Fauci. “A phase that is a transitional phase, hopefully directed towards more control, where you can really go back to a form of normalcy without completely disrupting society, economically, socially, academically, etc.”
The White House sent an additional funding request to Congress for aid to Ukraine, Covid-19 and monkey responses and natural disaster recovery ahead of the September 30 deadline for the next government funding bill. Officials say the $22.4 billion request is needed for testing, treatment and vaccinations. Congressional negotiators have indicated that funding for Covid-19 is unlikely to be included in the funding bill.
The administration is taking steps to bring parts of the pandemic response to the commercial market, efforts that will accelerate in the absence of federal funding.
CNN’s Kevin Lipta, Jeremy Diamond, Jamie Gumbrecht, Naomi Thomas and Brenda Goodman contributed to this report.