Joe Biden has said “the pandemic is over” in an interview broadcast on Sunday, though he admitted “we still have a problem with Covid”, as the US continues to grapple with coronavirus infections that kill hundreds of Americans a day.
The president told CBS’s 60 Minutes: “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.”
Last week the World Health Organization declared the end of the pandemic was “in sight”, after revealing that weekly deaths were at the lowest level since March 2020.
However, it cautioned that coronavirus still posed an “acute global emergency” and highlighted that during the first eight months of 2022 more than 1 million people died from Covid-19.
In the US, the toll of the pandemic has diminished significantly since early in Biden’s term when more than 3,000 Americans a day were dying, as enhanced care, medications and vaccinations have become more widely available.
But nearly 400 people a day continue to die from Covid in the US, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden spent more than two weeks isolating in the White House after two bouts of Covid, starting in July. His wife, Jill, contracted the virus in August. Biden has said the mild cases were a testament to the improvements in care during his presidency.
Biden has asked Congress for $22.4bn more in funding to prepare for a potential case surge in the fall.
In a rare departure from his pattern of avoiding commenting on the Department of Justice’s criminal inquiries into his predecessor, Biden told 60 Minutes that Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago home was “totally irresponsible”.
“I thought, ‘what data was in there that may compromise sources and methods?’ And by that I mean names of people who help etc – and it’s just totally irresponsible.”
Biden said he had not received a classified briefing on the contents of the documents seized by the FBI during a search of Trump’s Florida residence.
“I have not asked for the specifics of those documents because I don’t want to get myself in the middle of whether or not the justice department should move or not move on certain actions they can take,” Biden said. “I agreed I would not tell them what to do and not, in fact, engage in telling them how to prosecute or not.”
The justice department has said it is investigating Trump for removing White House records because it believed he illegally held documents including some involving intelligence-gathering and clandestine human sources – among America’s most closely held secrets.
Biden’s intelligence chief is also investigating whether the disclosure of information in those documents presented national security risks.