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After more than 1 million deaths in the United States and almost three years of lockdowns and economic disruptions, President Joe Biden declared the coronavirus pandemic is over in an interview that aired Sunday.
Biden said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that “we still have a problem with Covid,” adding: “We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over.”
CBS News said the interview was conducted Thursday, before the president flew to the United Kingdom for observances of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
The World Health Organization reported last week that new weekly worldwide deaths reached their lowest point in the first week of September since the coronavirus epidemic was declared a pandemic in March 2020.
“We are not there yet, but the end is in sight,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a briefing last week.
NBC News’ tally, however, indicated that U.S. Covid deaths have stayed relatively flat, averaging more than 500 a day over the last two weeks.
The virus has killed more than 1 million people in the U.S., pummeled the economy and disrupted school for millions of U.S. children.
The National Bureau of Economic Research reported last week that Covid continues to choke the labor supply. It estimated that Covid illnesses have reduced the U.S. labor force by about a half-million people, about 0.2% of all adults.
The pandemic also severely disrupted supply chains, leading to chronic shortages of key goods, inflation, factory closures, unloaded shipping containers and other “negative effects on a nation’s economic wellbeing,” FTI Consulting, the international business consulting group, reported early this month.
The Education Department, meanwhile, reported early this month that math and reading scores for 9-year-olds nosedived in the first two years of the pandemic — reading scores fell the most in 30 years, while math scores fell for first time in the history of the tests in the study.
The White House Covid response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, said in an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt this month ago that juvenile Covid case numbers continue to rise even as students head back to school.
Almost two years since emergency approval of the first Covid vaccines, most children ages 5 to 11 have received only a first dose of vaccines, the most common of which require two doses. Booster shots for children the age group were authorized only relatively recently, meaning, Jha said, they have “far more limited” protection from the virus.
Full coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic
Elsewhere in the CBS interview, Biden said he has yet to decide whether he will seek re-election in 2024.
“Look, my intention, as I said to begin with, is that I would run again,” he said. “But it’s just an intention. But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen.”
Saying, “I’m a great respecter of fate,” Biden said it’s “much too early to make that kind of decision.”
“And so what I’m doing is I’m doing my job. I’m going do that job,” he said. “And within the time frame that makes sense after this next election cycle here, going into next year, make a judgment on what to do.”
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Alex Johnson is a reporter and editor for NBC News based in Los Angeles.
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