Former Biden advisers call for pandemic strategy for ‘new normal’

Now, with the Omicron variant fueling a huge new wave, they wrote, the United States must avoid getting stuck in “a perpetual state of emergency.” The first step, they wrote, is to recognize that the coronavirus is one of many circulating respiratory viruses and develop policies to treat them all together.

To be better prepared for inevitable outbreaks – including from new coronavirus variants – they suggested that the administration set specific goals and benchmarks, including the number of hospitalizations and deaths from respiratory viruses, including influenza and Covid-19, should prompt emergency mitigation and other measures.

In addition to urging the administration to take a longer-term view, the authors have challenged some of Mr. Biden’s current policies and positions, particularly on political lightning rod issues. They called for a more aggressive use of vaccination warrants, which met with stiff opposition from Republicans, and said the nation needed a digital verification system for vaccination – the so-called vaccine passports. – which Mr. Biden has resisted in the face of Republican attacks on the concept.

“Relying on forged paper cards is unacceptable in the 21st century,” wrote Dr Borio, Dr Emanuel and Dr Rick Bright, CEO of the Pandemic Prevention Institute at the Rockefeller Foundation.

The most surprising thing about the articles is that they were written at all. Several of the authors said in interviews that they were appalled that the administration seemed caught off guard by the Delta and Omicron variants. Dr Bright, who helped write two of the articles, recalled the warning he issued at the last advisory board meeting on January 20, 2021.

“The last thing I said,” he recalls, “is that our vaccines are going to weaken and eventually fail. We must now prepare for the variants; we need to have a plan in place to continually update our vaccines, diagnostics, and genomics so that we can detect this early. Because variants will come, and we should never be surprised and we should never underestimate this virus. “

Mr Biden released a pandemic strategy when he took office, and Dr Emanuel said the administration “worked very well until June”, until the Delta variant brought a new one. wave of cases. The president recently released a new winter strategy, just as the Omicron variant was starting to hit the United States.

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