is the Covid-19 pandemic really “over”, as Joe Biden claims? – Liberation

Midterms: 2022 US Midterm Electionscase

In a television interview broadcast on Sunday, September 19, the American president only advanced vague arguments to assert his optimism. If the Covid indicators are down in the United States, his optimism remains premature.

A surge of optimism that questions after more than two years of pandemic, countless waves and surprising variations. Interviewed this Sunday evening on the set of the American program 60 Minutes, Joe Biden assured that “the pandemic was over”. The American president does not cite any figures, contenting himself rather with nebulous observations: “If you look around, no one is wearing a mask and everyone looks pretty good“, Recounts the head of state, who himself contracted the Covid at the end of July. His statement is surprising. Moreover, for the moment, no member of his administration or of a national institution in charge of health has taken up his remarks.

Looking at the figures for the epidemic in the United States, Joe Biden does not seem totally wrong: the main indicators have been falling since this summer. Since September 8, there have been fewer than 70,000 new cases on average per day – the lowest since May. This trend is observed in almost all states, a dozen of them having even seen this indicator drop by almost half in recent weeks. We are a long way from the peak known in mid-January, when an average of some 800,000 daily contaminations was established.

Hospital data point in the same direction, with a 12% drop in new admissions over the past two weeks. Daily deaths have been stable since the end of April, at a relatively “low” level with 339 daily deaths on average on September 11.

A recent study, published by the Centers for Disease Prevention (CDC), even indicates that the risk of dying in the event of hospitalization due to Covid has fallen to its lowest rate – 4.9% – since the beginning of the pandemic. Scientists note three main explanations:a high rate of vaccination and immunity“- nearly 68% of the American population is fully vaccinated -, “the administration of early treatment to patients at risk” and “the lesser virulence of omicron and its subvariants“. As in France, BA.5 is the majority in the United States.

After a modest wave between April and July, the epidemic is therefore declining well across the Atlantic. Is this the end of the pandemic or just a lull? It is a little premature to assert either option. Especially since the United States has already experienced dips, more or less important, before the curves go up. Last November, the number of daily contaminations was comparable to today’s 70,000, before a huge outbreak of fever which peaked in mid-January at 800,000 new cases per day.

The “midterms” in sight

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, admittedly maintained on September 14 that “the end [de la pandémie] is close at hand”. But the hope of the boss of the WHO was above all an opportunity to call on countries to maintain their efforts. “If we don’t seize this opportunity, we run the risk of having more variants, more deaths, more disruptions and more uncertainties.“, he also warned.

In a country particularly bereaved by the virus, Joe Biden’s assertion could portray political interest rather than scientific reality. The deadline for the midterm elections in the United States is approaching and the president, even if he regains ground, remains fragile. Less than two months before the election, having defeated the pandemic that has plagued the country for two and a half years would be an electoral argument not to be overlooked. Still it would have to be true.

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