Health experts alarmed by President Biden’s view that pandemic is over: ‘Hell no – not even close’

Health experts reacted with dismay Monday to President Joe Biden’s claim that the pandemic is over in an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday.

“We still have a problem with COVID. We are still working on it a lot. … But the pandemic is over,” Biden told CBS News correspondent Scott Pelley. “If you notice, nobody wears masks. Everyone looks in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing.”

Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, accused the president of magical thinking and perhaps too much faith in the new divalent boosters.

Others noted that with more than 400 deaths from COVID each day on average, the U.S. is experiencing 9/11-level casualties every week, hardly a sign that the pandemic is fully under control.

Others said there’s no way of knowing what will happen once winter sets in and people spend more time indoors together.

Just last week, the head of the World Health Organization said that while the end was in sight, “we’re not there yet.”

The statement sent shares of vaccine makers plummeting. Modern mRNA,
was last down 9.5%, Pfizer PFE,
fell 1.8%, and BioNTech BNTX,
down 11.8%. Novavax NVAX,
which won approval for a protein-based vaccine in the US in July, fell 2.4%.

Known cases of COVID in the U.S. continue to decline, although the true number is likely higher than reported because data is not collected on many people who are tested at home.

The daily average number of new cases stood at 61,712 on Sunday, according to a New York Times tracker, down 29% from two weeks ago. The tracker shows cases rising in seven states, all in the Northeast — Connecticut, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont — and that cases are flat in Pennsylvania.

See also: The impact of COVID-19 on life expectancy is misleading

The average daily number of hospitalizations fell by 12%, to 33,143, while the average daily number of deaths fell by 6%, to 464.

From the CDC: Stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters

Current information on coronavirus: The MarketWatch Daily Roundup has curated and reported all the latest developments every weekday since the start of the coronavirus pandemic

Other COVID-19 news you need to know:

• A bus carrying 47 people to a COVID-19 quarantine facility in southwestern China reportedly crashed before dawn Sunday morning, killing 27 and injuring 20 others, the Associated Press reported. The bus overturned on a highway in Guizhou province, according to a brief statement from Sandu County police, which did not mention any connection to the quarantine.

• Beer is flowing at the world-famous Oktoberfest in Munich for the first time since 2019, AP reported separately. With three taps of a gavel and the traditional cry of “O’zapft is” — “It’s tapped” — Mayor Dieter Reiter turned the tap on the first keg at noon Saturday, officially opening the festivities after a two-year hiatus forced by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cities from Anchorage to New Orleans have ended or are closing a program that housed homeless people in hotels and motels during the pandemic, the AP reported. The program is designed to avoid overcrowding in shelters. In Denver, Federal Emergency Management Agency funds channeled through the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless have helped keep the Quality Inn operating for the past two and a half years. But $9 million spent to lease the hotel from its owner and an additional $5 million to $6 million in operating costs became unsustainable, said John Parvenski, president and CEO of the coalition.

The COVID-19 pandemic has renewed interest in the practice of testing wastewater to track disease outbreaks, including polio, an outbreak of which prompted a state of emergency in New York state earlier this month. The Wall Street Journal visited a Bay Area wastewater facility to find out how the testing works and what it can tell us about public health. (Photo illustration: Ryan Trefes)

Here’s what the numbers say

The global number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 surpassed 612 million on Monday, while the number of deaths rose above 6.52 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The US leads the world with 95.7 million cases and 1,053,461 deaths.

Tracking from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that 224.6 million people living in the US are fully vaccinated, which equates to 67.7% of the total population. Only 109.2 million received a booster, equal to 48.6% of the vaccinated population, and 22.5 million of those 50 and older eligible for a second booster received one, equal to 34.7% of those who received their first booster.

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