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Biden's 'pandemic is over' comments muddle COVID messaging

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Last night during a "60 Minutes" interview, President Joe Biden said the pandemic is over, though COVID-19 is still a problem, which prompted swift and sharp criticism among some public health experts.The president's comments come at a time when the government is rolling out a new two-strain COVID vaccine booster, updated to protect against Omicron subvariants (see today's related story), and as virologists see some signs of other Omicron subvariants starting to challenge BA.5 dominance.Biden calls pandemic overDuring the "60 Minutes" segment, reporter Scott Pelley and Biden were touring the Detroit auto show, when Pelley noted that the city's auto show was its first in 3 years and asked Biden if the pandemic is over.

Biden replied, "The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We're still doing a lot of work on it."The president pointed out that no one at the venue was wearing a mask and people seem to be in good shape. "I think it's changing, and I think this is a perfect example of it."Two administration officials told Politico that Biden's comments weren't part of his planned remarks.

Later in the interview, Biden spoke about the impact of the pandemic on families and communities, uncertainty about the future, and the loss of more than 1 million lives.'Wounded' COVID messagingInfectious disease expert Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, said pandemics aren't declared over based on policy decisions, but rather scientific consensus.

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