US President Joe Biden Says COVID-19 'Pandemic Is Over'

The Government is scrapping the traffic light system which has been in place for most of the pandemic. (First published Sept 12)
US President Joe Biden has declared the coronavirus pandemic "over," in apparently off-the-cuff remarks that reflect the growing sentiment that the threat of the virus has receded, even as hundreds of Americans continue to die of Covid each day.

"We still have a problem with Covid," Biden said on 60 Minutes, which aired on Sunday night (local time). "We're still doing a lot of work on it... but the pandemic is over”.

Biden made the remarks on Wednesday (local time) during an interview at the auto show in Detroit, referencing the crowds at the event. The annual auto show had not been held since 2019.

"If you notice, no one's wearing masks," Biden said to CBS News reporter Scott Pelley. "Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it's changing. And I think this is a perfect example of it."

While Biden's comments were extemporaneous, they may complicate his administration's so far unsuccessful efforts to secure additional funding from Congress for more coronavirus vaccines and treatments and to take other steps intended to combat the virus.

Republicans on Sunday night (local time) raised questions about why the administration would renew its ongoing public health emergency if the pandemic is over. That emergency declaration, which is set to expire next month, has allowed federal officials to pursue flexible solutions amid the crisis, including rapidly authorising new Covid treatments and keeping many Americans covered by Medicaid, the safety-net health programme.

The Urban Institute, a think tank that conducts economic and social policy research, has estimated that as many as 15.8 million Americans could lose Medicaid coverage after the government ends its emergency declaration.