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What does it mean that Biden says the pandemic is over?

(CNN Spanish) — The president of the United States, Joe Biden, said this Sunday that the covid-19 pandemic is over, after being questioned about it in an interview on the CBS program “60 Minutes”.

Biden acknowledged that covid-19 is still a problem in the US, but that as such the pandemic is over.

“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with covid. We still work a lot on that. But the pandemic is over,” Biden said in the interview.

What does this mean in a country where the numbers of the disease have dropped significantly, but where hundreds of people continue to die every day?

A clear position of the Biden government

To begin with, it is necessary to say that the only body that can declare the end of the covid-19 pandemic is the World Health Organization (WHO), which was the one that first declared its beginning on March 11, 2020.

Despite this, Biden’s statement could mean that his government will take a clear position on the disease from now on; that is, a position in which it is recognized that the covid continues to wreak havoc and measures will be taken in the face of this scenario, but not to the extent that we saw the previous two years.

This is in accordance with the adjustments made last month by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to its guidance on covid-19.

With these adjustments, the CDC is urging the United States to move away from measures like quarantines and physical distancing, and instead focus on reducing serious illness caused by COVID-19.

Likewise, Biden’s statement this Sunday seems to be aimed at reducing the confusion that exists about the measures to face covid. At the beginning of September there was still talk of a “powerful division” among the country’s health leaders on how to guide messages about this disease, so the words of the US president may be part of a general demand to abide by updated guidance from the CDC.

The end of the pandemic “is near”, but help against covid is still a present issue

Days before Biden’s statement, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared that the world had never been in a better position to end the covid-19 pandemic.

“Last week, the number of weekly deaths reported from covid-19 was the lowest since March 2020,” Tedros Adhanom said on September 14. “We have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We are not there yet, but the end is near.”

Although the end is near, added the director general of the WHO, the efforts against covid must continue, since there is still the risk of more variants, deaths, interruptions and uncertainty, for which he called to take advantage of the opportunity that we have now.

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This, in a nutshell, means that the disease has lessened its impact, but it hasn’t stopped (and most likely won’t, so we’ll try to live with it). To show this, the figures from the United States: although deaths are at their lowest point since March 2020, as Tedros said, almost 400 Americans still die on average per day from covid-19, according to data from the CDC .

This is also related to Biden’s statement this Sunday, because, as he said, covid continues to be a problem. For this reason, he has continued to ask for help: just on September 2, Biden again asked Congress for more than US $ 22,000 million in funds for the response against covid-19.

The White House says the funds are needed for vaccines, tests and treatments (which helps tackle the problem of covid as a serious disease, in line with what Biden said on “60 Minutes”).

The Biden administration had already requested the Covid response funds earlier this year, but Congress did not approve them, which is why it reapplied on September 2.

With reporting from CNN’s Betsy Klein, Naomi Thomas, Kate Sullivan, Jamie Gumbrecht, Brenda Goodman and Elizabeth Cohen.

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