Health experts are concerned about the effect of Biden’s announcement on COVID, despite the clarification

U.S. health officials say 4.4 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves for an updated revaccination against COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the tally Thursday as health experts bemoaned President Joe Biden’s recent remark that the “pandemic is over.”

University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi worries that the president’s announcement has taken on a life of its own and could stall prevention efforts.

“This soundbite has been around for a while and will spread like wildfire. And that would make it seem like, ‘Oh, we don’t have to do anything else,'” Salemi said.

“If we’re happy with 400 or 500 people dying from COVID every day, that’s a problem,” Salemi said. “We can do better because most, if not all, of these deaths are preventable with the tools we have.”

By its own estimate, the White House said more than 5 million people had received new boosters, accounting for delays in state reporting. Health experts say it is too early to predict whether demand will match the 171 million doses of new boosters the US has ordered for the fall.

“At this point, no one is going to look at our flu shots and think, ‘Oh, what a disaster,'” said Dr. David Dowdy, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “If we start to see a big increase in cases, I think we’ll see a lot of people get (the new COVID vaccine).”

Meanwhile, Biden’s statement in an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday went viral on social media.

“We still have a problem with COVID. We are still working on it a lot. But the pandemic is over,” Biden said while walking around the auto show in Detroit. “If you notice, no one is wearing a mask. Everyone seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think that’s changing.”

On Wednesday, when the Kansas Department of Public Health posted a message on Facebook where residents can find new booster shots, the first commenter scoffed:

“But Biden Says Pandemic Is Over.”

Biden later acknowledged criticism of his remarks about the end of the pandemic and explained that the pandemic is “not where it was.”

The president’s statement, despite his efforts to explain it, adds to the public confusion, said Josh Michaud, deputy director of global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington.

“People are not sure when it’s time to cheer up. “Am I right?” People are often confused about what the right choice is for them, even where to look for that information,” Michaud said.

“Anytime you get mixed messages, it hurts health efforts,” Michaud said. “Getting mixed messages from the president’s remarks makes that job that much more difficult.”

Due to the temporary shortage of the Moderna vaccine, some pharmacies canceled appointments while encouraging people to switch to the Pfizer vaccine. The problem was expected to be resolved when government regulators completed testing and cleared batches of vaccine doses for distribution.

Some Americans who plan to get vaccinated against the most common strains of omicron said they are waiting because they recently got COVID-19 or got sick from another booster. They follow public health recommendations to wait several months to get the full benefit of the antibodies they have against the viruses.

Others schedule vaccination closer to holiday gatherings and winter months, when respiratory viruses spread more easily.

“I expect it to pick up in the coming weeks,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. “We thought and talked about it as an annual vaccine, as a flu vaccine. The flu vaccination season begins in late September and early October. We are just starting our educational campaign. So we’re hoping to see, even though it’s been a strong start, we actually expect it to build stronger.”

Retired hospital chaplain Jeanie Murphy, 69, of Shawnee, Kansas, plans to get a new brace in a couple of weeks after minor knee surgery. Her neighbors are very interested in what she sees on the Nextdoor app.

“There’s a lot of discussion going on among people who are willing to make appointments,” Murphy said. “It inspires me. For every skeptic, there will be 10-12 people who will jump up and say: “You are crazy.” You just have to go take a picture.’

Biden’s first comment didn’t bother Murphy. She believes that the disease has entered a stationary state, when “in the fall we will get the COVID vaccine just like the flu vaccine.”

Experts hope she’s right, but are waiting to see what level of infection winter will bring. A summer decline in the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths could be followed by another surge, Dowdy said.

Asked by a panel of biosecurity experts on Thursday what still keeps him up at night, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that half of vaccinated Americans never receive the initial booster dose.

“We have a vulnerability in our population that will continue to hold us in a state of potential destruction of our social order,” Fauci said. “I think we have to do better as a nation.”

Some Americans who received the new shots said they were excited about the idea of ​​targeting the vaccine against the variants that are currently in circulation.

“Give me all the science you can,” said Jeff Westling, 30, an attorney in Washington, D.C., who received a new booster and flu shot Tuesday, one in each arm. He participates in the combat sports of jiu-jitsu, so he wants to protect himself from infections that can arise from close contact. “I have no qualms about trusting people whose job it is to review the evidence.”

Copyright 2022 Health News Florida

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