Boston doctor says COVID pandemic is not over, despite Biden’s remarks

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By Courtney Cole, WBZ-TV

BOSTON – We are now about two and a half years into the COVID-19 pandemic and life is feeling a lot more like normal. However, there are questions being raised about the state of the pandemic.

This comes following a statement President Biden made in an interview over the weekend-saying he thinks the COVID-19 pandemic is over. But is that true?
   
“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it. It’s– but the pandemic is over,” President Biden, said in part, during a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday.

Not quite, according to Dr. Paul Sax, The Clinical Director of the division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Sax is also Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s and Harvard Medical School.

“Well first, let me underscore the fact -that despite the fact that the president said that, the pandemic is not over,” Sax said. “We still have quite a lot of COVID-19 out there. You probably know people–everyone knows people who recently got it.”

Dr. Sax told Cole that we have made a whole lot of progress, though. He believes that is what the president ultimately meant by his statement.

“We now have really effective vaccines that prevent the severe outcomes of COVID-19 and we have treatments. But it is still occurring, and I do expect that it will actually get worse as the winter weather comes in,” Dr Sax said.

People WBZ-TV’s Courtney Cole spoke with Monday said they don’t believe the pandemic is over, just yet, so they are still taking precautions.

“I’m three vaccinations in, so I feel pretty safe. I feel like it’s almost over, but I do mask on the train…not going to lie about that!” exclaimed Brian Burgess.

“Yes, I mask-up when it’s the time to mask-up, but if I know everyone’s negative and they’re fine–I take my mask off,” Latoya Allen explained.

“Well, I also have cancer, so getting COVID could be catastrophic for me. So, I still take precautions every day. I wear my mask, unless I’m outside and not around a lot of people,” Todd Koukow said.

Asked what people should be doing moving forward to keep each other safe, Dr. Sax said, “Well, I do recommend that people get the updated boosters that have just come out. They have been specially-tuned for the Omicron variant, and especially to the particular for the one that is circulating most commonly now.”

Dr. Bisola Ojikutu, The Commissioner of Public Health and the Executive Director of The Boston Public Health Commission, also sent a statement saying: “While we have made progress against COVID-19, it’s important for everyone to remember that this virus poses a serious health risk and is still a danger our communities. Nationally, nearly 400 people per day are dying from severe COVID-19 infection and here in Boston, stark racial disparities in health outcomes and vaccination rates mean our Black, Latinx, and immigrant residents have been disproportionately harmed by the pandemic and remain at greater risk severe illness and hospitalization. As we enter fall and winter, the Boston Public Health Commission is focused on increasing our city’s vaccination and booster rates to ensure residents have the broadest protection possible to reduce instances of severe illness, hospitalization, and death.”

According to the latest data from their BPHC COVID Dashboard, there have been 1,521 COVID-19 deaths in deaths in Boston since the start of the pandemic — which is a 0.7% rate.

Dr. Sax said if you haven’t had COVID in the last three months and haven’t been vaccinated in the last three months – go ahead and get the booster shot.

“If everybody would just kind of lookout for each other, it would be a lot better,” Koukow said.

Dr. Sax said even though most cases now are on the milder side- some people still get quite sick.  

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