Pretty good shape


“The pandemic is over,” the president said during an interview at the Detroit auto show. “We still have a problem with Covid. We’re still doing a lot of work on it … but the pandemic is over. If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing.”

The upcoming midterm elections may have also played a role in the president’s comments, said Dr Celine Gounder, an infectious disease epidemiologist and editor-at-large at Kaiser Health News.

The president was “signaling that the country is not suffering the way it was economically and socially from Covid the way it was”, said Gounder. “To say that we are coping with the pandemic better than we were, but that there’s still room for improvement would have been one thing. But essentially, this is declaring ‘mission accomplished’ when you still have thousands of people dying each week.”

The current rate would amount to about 150,000 deaths per year, which is equivalent to three bad flu seasons, said Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. (Over the last decade, the highest number of deaths during a flu season was about 50,000, according to the CDC.)

“This ended pandemic is still three times as bad as something we would ordinarily consider pretty bad, and I think that’s important, especially because we expect cases to tick up in the fall and the winter,” Hanage said.

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