WASHINGTON – Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House pandemic response coordinator, delivered a somber message Friday about the ever-evolving coronavirus pathogen estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. has infected more than 140 million Americansincluding President Biden.
“This virus is going to be with us forever.” Jha said during a press conference devoted to an update on the president’s health. “It is very, very important that people build up their immunity against this virus,” he added, emphasizing that vaccination is the best means of doing so.
It was an exhilarating reminder that any hope of completely eradicating the coronavirus is gone. And while many Americans have sought to return to normal life, the coronavirus continues to wreak economic and social upheaval.
“Dr. Jha is acknowledging the consensus among medical and public health experts: that COVID-19 is with us throughout our lives and beyond,” Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert closely associated with Dr. Jha, told Yahoo News. the White House on the pandemic.
“But this is not the COVID-19 of 2020,” Dr. Wen said, pointing to the wide availability of vaccines and treatments. “Now we have many tools that allow us to live with this coronavirus.”
Biden is fully vaccinated and has received two booster shots. On Friday, he and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said his symptoms remained mild. after the president tested positive for COVID on Thursday. The president’s contagion returned the pandemic to the headlines, after several months in which the war in Ukraine, inflation and gun control dominated news coverage.
Some public health experts saw Biden’s infection as yet another sign of how complacent citizens had become. Like many other Americans, she had stopped wearing a mask and resumed travel, including abroad.
“The president likes to interact and engage with the American public,” Jean-Pierre said in response to a reporter’s question about whether Biden lamented the recent pace of his travel and social engagements.
The several waves of the Omicron variant that have spread across the United States have suggested that the virus initially known as SARS-CoV-2 is becoming increasingly more transmissible, though not necessarily more virulent. While that’s good news for people who are vaccinated and boosted, it means the virus will almost certainly find new ways to evade immune protections, if only to cause relatively mild illness.
Although the BA.5 variant continues to cause new infections, a new strain even more transmissible known as BA.2.75 has been detected in the United States.
“The dominant strains are so contagious that it is extremely difficult to avoid infection,” Wen told Yahoo News.
But even if the coronavirus persists for years to come, it is for the most part the unvaccinated and those who have not received boosters who are at risk of serious illness or death. More than 1 million Americans have died due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
“We’re at a point now where, I think, we can prevent almost all of the COVID deaths in the United States,” Dr. Jha said Friday. The week ended with about 400 people dying daily from COVID-19 across the country.