Biden’s Inert COVID-19 Strategy - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Biden’s Inert COVID-19 Strategy

A growing number of public health experts have recommended that the Biden administration update its COVID-19 strategy. It is increasingly obvious that an approach based on the President’s pledge to “shut down the virus” will fail. The emerging consensus among epidemiologists is that elimination of the virus is unlikely and that it will probably evolve into an endemic malady, like influenza, that circulates in the population at a relatively manageable level. This consensus has been largely ignored by the Biden administration because updating its approach to COVID-19 would mean relinquishing the political power associated with the perpetual “public health emergency,” and replacing several incompetent public health advisors.

Consequently, even former health advisers to the Biden transition team are criticizing his administration’s static COVID-19 strategy. In early January, Drs. Ezekiel Emanuel, Michael Osterholm, and Celine Gounder published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggesting that the Biden strategy has been an ineffective mixture of myopic initiatives and poor messaging. It has not merely failed to shut down the virus, it has created an enormous amount of public confusion. They make explicit reference to Biden’s hasty July 4th victory lap: “Thanks to our heroic vaccine effort, we’ve gained the upper hand against this virus.” They suggest that a little more humility is in order:

In delineating a national strategy, humility is essential. The precise duration of immunity to SARS-CoV-2 from vaccination or prior infection is unknown. Also unknown is whether SARS-CoV-2 will become a seasonal infection; whether antiviral therapies will prevent long COVID; or whether even more transmissible, immune-evading, or virulent variants will arise after Omicron. Another part of this humility is recognizing that predictions are necessary but educated guesses, not mathematical certainty. The virus, host response, and data will evolve.

This was part of a larger call for Biden and his public health team “to specify the goals and strategies for the ‘new normal’ of life with COVID-19 and communicate them clearly to the public.” Thus far, there is no indication that they plan to heed that advice. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently told Politico that her large and powerful agency doesn’t have enough information to develop such a strategy: “I would love to say I know exactly where we are because I think people really do want to know.… But the most important thing that we can say is that we don’t know exactly where we’re heading.” This won’t reassure the general public.

Yet Walensky’s statement is certainly no more unnerving than the effusions of Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief public health advisor. Dr. Fauci’s propensity to promulgate misinformation is the stuff of legend. On subjects like the efficacy of face masks and the percentage of the population that must be vaccinated for the country to achieve herd immunity, his positions change every time he speaks. The creepiest feature of his “evolving” positions on these issues was his blithe admission to the New York Times that he has deliberately deceived the public. Biden’s failure to fire Fauci after that revelation didn’t enhance the credibility of his administration’s COVID-19 strategy. Sadly, as Matt Taibbi writes at Substack:

We’ve seen sudden changes in official positions on the efficacy of ventilators and lockdowns, on the dangers (or lack thereof) of opening schools, and on the risks, however small, of vaccine side effects like myocarditis. The CDC also just released data showing natural immunity to be more effective in preventing hospitalization and in preventing infection than vaccination. The government had previously said, over and over, that vaccination is preferable to natural immunity… This was apparently another “noble lie,” designed to inspire people to get vaccinated.

The consistent flow of misinformation from various federal health officials involved in the Biden administration’s failed attempt to get COVID-19 under control has contributed to the President’s plummeting job approval numbers. Handling the pandemic was one issue on which the public was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but the polls suggest that Americans have lost their patience. In the latest YouGov survey, only 38 percent of respondents approved of Biden’s management of the pandemic. Yet he recently stood in the White House and boasted about his administration’s performance: “The bottom line on COVID-19 is that we are in a better place than we’ve been thus far.” This is nonsense.

According to CDC, the 7-day rolling average for new COVID-19 deaths has now exceeded the highest point reached last fall when the Delta variant was dominant. The Biden administration’s fixation on vaccinations designed for previous variants allowed the more vaccine resistant Omicron strain to spread rapidly. Omicron produces relatively mild symptoms for most people, but it is highly transmissible. Thus, it is causing larger numbers of deaths in absolute terms. This brings us to the Biden administration’s dilatory rollout of therapeutics. In another article for the Journal of the American Medical Association, Drs. Luciana L. Borio and Rick A. Bright speak to this issue:

A more effective response to COVID-19 will require rapid development of efficacious oral antiviral treatments. Molnupiravir and Paxlovid were recently authorized by the FDA. Outpatient COVID-19 treatments need to be made widely available at no cost.… Importantly, there must be a mechanism to ensure every person who tests positive is proactively offered appropriate and rapid treatment. If a patient tests positive, whether at home, a pharmacy, or hospital clinic, there must be a mechanism for treatment to be initiated immediately following diagnosis.

This highlights the worst failure of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 strategy. It should have been obvious to the White House public health team that therapeutic treatments would be a crucial element of the transition to the “new normal.” Yet it has clearly not been a priority for Fauci, Walensky, et al. Instead, they placed enormous emphasis on masking, testing and vaccines. Treatments were not merely deemphasized, any favorable reference to therapeutics has been aggressively denounced by the White House and the media as “misinformation.” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy actually suggested that Big Tech should censor a social media personality. If this doesn’t worry you, time to wake up.

All of which raises this question: Are Biden’s public health officials so incompetent that they really believed they could shut down the virus? Or is the White House just reluctant to give up the power that comes with the public health emergency? Either way, the voters have had it with the ongoing assault on their basic liberties in the cause of controlling COVID-19. If President Biden wants to improve his job approval numbers, he should replace Anthony Fauci, Rochelle Walensky, and Vivek Murthy with credible public health experts. Next, he should let the public health emergency expire in April. These actions won’t solve all his problems, but they might convince the voters that he is sentient.

David Catron
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David Catron is a recovering health care consultant and frequent contributor to The American Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter at @Catronicus.
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