President Joe Biden said that "the pandemic is over" in an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes, which aired on Sunday. He noted that "we still have a problem with COVID" but that fewer people are wearing masks in public and big events like the Detroit Auto Show, where the interview took place, have resumed.
Biden's remarks confused some because they come as his administration is trying to secure more funds from Congress to continue to provide treatments, vaccines and other resources to people (some Americans have already been impacted by the lack of funding). Some health experts have also disagreed with the president's statement, partly over the fact that while the burden of deaths and severe disease caused by COVID-19 is significantly better than months ago or a year ago, hundreds of Americans are still dying from COVID-19 every day.
Biden's remarks were more final than the statement from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, who said last week that we've "never been in a better position to end the pandemic," also calling attention to the existing vaccine and resource inequity around the world.
"We're not there yet, but the end is in sight," Tedros said.
The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Scientists have come to the conclusion that COVID-19 is going to be something we'll need to live with as a virus that circulates at lower endemic levels. But the official line for when COVID-19 is no longer a pandemic -- defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an event in which a disease spreads across several countries and affects a large number of people -- has been difficult to call.
The US also recently made available new boosters that target the BA.5 version of omicron, which has been causing most cases of COVID-19 recently. Official case counts of COVID-19 have been difficult to pin down due to the increasing number of people testing positive at home. Thanks to immunity from vaccines and boosters, prior infections and antiviral treatments, fewer people are going into the hospital for additional care. But as The Washington Post reports, those treatments and vaccines are rapidly authorized and available to more Americans because of an ongoing public health emergency, which has been renewed multiple times since the pandemic began.