EU official contradicts Biden, says pandemic is not over yet

Responding to US President Joe Biden’s remark that “the pandemic is over”, an official at the European Union’s drugs regulator said on Tuesday that the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing. The official added that a planned vaccination campaign during the cold season was key to fighting it.

“We in Europe still consider the pandemic as ongoing and it’s important that member states prepare for rollout of the vaccines and especially the adaptive vaccines to prevent further spread of this disease in Europe,” the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Chief Medical Officer Steffen Thirstrup told a media briefing, referring to vaccines targeting specific strains of the virus.

Also Read | President Biden says COVID-19 pandemic in US ‘is over’

“I cannot obviously answer why President Biden came to that conclusion,” Thirstrup said.

In an interview televised Sunday, Biden declared the pandemic over in the US. “We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over,” Biden said. However, statistics show that over 400 Americans on average are dying from the virus each day.

On the other hand, officials told US media that despite Biden’s comments, a change in policy was not on the cards and there were no plans to lift the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency.

A few days back, the World Health Organization (WHO) had said that the end of the pandemic is in sight, provided countries use the tools at their disposal.

EMA officials also said that people in Europe should take whatever COVID-19 booster is available and recommended to them in the coming months. The body has endorsed several vaccines specifically targeted at the Omicron variant to control a surge in infections during autumn and winter. 

(With inputs from agencies)