As Team Biden Tries to Turn the Page on COVID, Top Doctors Object to New Approach

In early 2021, the incoming Biden administration hoped to rescue America from the previous regime Lord in the air–Pandemic response, in which states battled each other for scarce supplies and advisors controversial recommendations for the virus to spread unchecked to achieve immunity by herd. Joe BidenHis team launched a large and well-organized vaccine rollout, delivering life-saving shots to most homes in the United States within five miles and immunizing about 215 million Americans.

More than a year later, with 1 million Americans dying from the bewildering COVID-19 – nearly half came after vaccines were made available for free, amid a battle with infectious variants raging and Anti-vax misinformation is rampant – Biden’s team seems to revolve around a new approach.

Faced with an exhausted and divided public, dwindling legal options for maintaining vaccination and face covering mandates, and ominous voting ahead of the midterm elections, the administration has shunned the top-down efforts to control the spread of the virus. It aims to turn the disease into a treatable, survivable, and hospital-free condition. To do that, the administration wants to ensure Americans have access to ample vaccines, powerful treatments like Pfizer Paxlovid, and a host of other treatments like monoclonal antibodies. “If you can target [these tools] To the right people, almost no one has to die,” said a senior government official Vanity Fair.

With that in mind, there has been a marked shift in how federal officials talk about the pandemic. “You will see them change the message around personal responsibility,” says Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who served as an FDA commissioner under his authority Donald Trump. “’Don’t be a fool to go COVID into a restaurant. Don’t be the careless person organizing a super viral event. ‘ They’re trying to incite good behavior on the sidelines. ”

But the effort to transition to a new normal of living safely with COVID-19 encounters an immediate obstacle: SARS-CoV-2 itself, is creating new and more transmissible variants at a remarkable rate. alarm. “This virus is in hypermutation mode. Rick Bright, Executive director of the Institute for Pandemic Prevention at the Rockefeller Foundation. “This is an ugly virus that causes an ugly disease.”

The authorities are also hearing complaints – both in private and on Twitter – from a significant contingent of doctors and public health officials who have alleged violations of both the new approach and the change. new tone of government.

Gregg Gonsalves, An associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, thinks the message shift has more to do with a “new political era” than with any new scientific or medical fact. He called it a “hyperbolic move amid mass fish deaths…. We are still in the middle of a pandemic, with all the uncertainties.”

According to some doctors and scientists, preventing new infections is still very important, especially with a virus as dangerous and unpredictable as this one. “You never know: Is this an infection that will kill you?” speak Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. A new analysis by the nonprofit organization FAIR Health finds that more than 75% of patients have persistent COVID, a disabling cluster of symptoms ranging from fatigue to shortness of breath, initially with a mild case or no symptoms. and did not require hospitalization when first diagnosed.

A spokesman for the White House, Kevin Munoz, speak Vanity Fair, “The President released a comprehensive, 100-page plan in March, emphasizing that COVID-19 is not over and providing a detailed road map of how we can continue to protect people from the virus. COVID, stop COVID is the disruptive feature it has. took so long, and safely moved America forward — realizing that we now have more tools than ever… and a solid foundation to build on.” He added that “countless outside experts” have helped the White House develop its plan, but Congress has so far failed to provide funding to continue it.

Soon after Biden took office, his new surgeon, Dr. Vivek Murthy, began a series of unrecorded calls with influential doctors and public health experts. The boards functioned as a quasi audition for a handful of attendees who wanted a role in the new administration. But they also allowed the Biden Team to keep messages to medical influencers and ask them to criticize them behind closed doors before going public. “I find the calls pointless and useless, except that I feel special to be invited,” said one doctor who attended the call.

More recently, medical conversations have become something else: a venue for pressing exchanges between administration officials and doctors about the fundamental goal of federal COVID policy, according to half a dozen doctors. Dozens of participating doctors spoke to Vanity Fair. Is the goal to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across the country, or simply to allow Americans to choose the level of risk that’s right for them, as long as hospitals aren’t overwhelmed?

In a May 5 call, dozens of doctors listened as the White House’s recently appointed COVID-19 king, Dr. Ashish Jha, lists the limits of the federal pandemic response that has run out of money. Without new funding from Congress, Jha explained to the group, supplies of vaccines and monoclonal antibodies will dry up and not all treatments will continue to be covered by the relief fund. COVID-19.

The administration is not to blame for the failure of Congress to fund these measures. But for the doctors in their call to fight for medical equity, it’s clear that a cheap COVID response will disproportionately impact disadvantaged communities.

A week before the call, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner had become a battleground over what constitutes an acceptable risk. Even as cases spike once again, fueled by the omicron subvariables BA.2 and BA.2.12.1, the federal response has shifted away from mandatory precautions and into a risk assessment. personal risk.

Jha seemed to endorse this view, telling Fox News during dinner preparations, “I think if people put in place good safeguards, they can make it significantly safer. tell — make sure everyone is vaccinated, make sure you get tested, improve ventilation. Those are the strategies we’ve learned over the last two years.” While Dr. Anthony Faucice unequivocally skipping dinner, Jha attended without a mask, and so did most of the guests. The inevitable tally of ailing reporters later revealed that the party had been a super-contagious event.

But for health equity advocates in the call, including Dr. Ebony Hilton, a Virginia anesthesiologist, the event highlights a fundamental injustice at the heart of the pandemic response. Media executives and prominent journalists who get sick can often get free tests, consult their personal doctors, and if warranted, take the antiviral Paxlovid . But the servers, drivers, and other support staff they come into contact with over the course of the festival weekend may have to pay for tests, seek expensive medical care, and hunt. who are willing to prescribe medicine for them.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/05/biden-covid-shift As Team Biden Tries to Turn the Page on COVID, Top Doctors Object to New Approach

Sarah Ridley

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