US President Joe Biden said in an interview aired on Sunday that “the pandemic is over,” even though the country is still operating under the public health emergency, first declared in January 2020.
“The pandemic is over,” Mr Biden said during an interview conducted with CBS’ ‘60 Minutes’ program on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show, an event which drew thousands of visitors.
“We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it. But the pandemic is over. If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing.”
Health officials like White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha have as recently as this month said “the pandemic is not over,” but have acknowledged that there is a shift under way in its fight against the virus.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that the “end is in sight” for the pandemic, but still urged nations to maintain their vigilance.
Investors ditch vaccine stocks
Investors wiped more than USD 10 billion off the market value of the main COVID-19 vaccine makers on Monday following the US president’s statement.
Shares in Moderna, BioNTech and Novavax dropped 9 percent while Pfizer, which is less dependent on vaccine sales, fell 2 percent in early trading in New York.
Analysts have said the sell-off is a response to concerns over demand for COVID vaccines, prompted by increasing public apathy and the message from leaders in the US and elsewhere that the crisis phase of the coronavirus pandemic is coming to an end.