Analysis: Biden has new chance to rein in pandemic at vaccine turning point

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The Biden White House has, at times, been guilty of sending mixed messages and an avalanche of comments by top health officials that are sometimes hard to understand for everyday citizens – and contrast sharply with the administration’s strong start on its handling of the crisis. it happens.

But another potentially defining moment in the 19-month national nightmare is at hand, as immunity to full immunization begins to wane and regulators favor booster shots for some Americans that can save lives and control Covid-19. promise to keep. And millions of parents grappled with the task of keeping young children safe, desperate for news on when vaccines will be approved, keeping schools open and fearing that Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas will be bad again .
There was good news on Thursday. A panel of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine advisors recommended booster shots for people who received a single dose of Johnson & Johnson. It also recommended emergency use authorization for follow-up vaccination for people over 65 or with medical conditions putting them at risk for severe Covid-19 and for people over the age of 18 who live in high-risk environments. Live or work and receive the first two-dose mod regimen. Those guidelines match the recommendations already given to the same category of Americans who had Pfizer shots.
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How both President Joe Biden and his team handle the rollout will be important.

Vaccine authorization is primarily a medical concern. And sound science requires fair and systematic testing and evaluation of new vaccines – a factor that can lead to public impatience. But given the implications of the moment for the nation, they also represent a greater test of governance, delivery and public relations for Biden’s White House.

On Thursday evening at the Granthshala town hall in Baltimore, the president indicated that he understands the trauma people are facing after months of battling the crisis. In addition to some structural problems in the economy related to the pandemic, he said some people were simply “down” and wondering if they “want to get back in the game.”

“I get asked the question: ‘How about Christmas? How about Thanksgiving? Will it be okay? I mean, what’s going to happen? Will I be able to buy presents for my kids?’ There is a lot of restlessness among the people.”

One of the keys to alleviating that worry will be the success of the upcoming booster expansion — and vaccines for kids that will give parents peace of mind.

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Failure at this point to convey a clear message to the public about boosters risks confusing those who wonder if they are eligible for them, potentially reducing fully protected populations if people use them. do not receive. But it can also give new life to a virus that has shown an amazing ability to exploit the fatigue of public crisis and political division.

For Biden, who was chosen more than anything to end the pandemic, it is a major challenge that will test his reputation for competence, eroded by some difficult political months that saw a chaotic return from Afghanistan There have been months of conflict between Gaye and the Democrats to use them. Washington’s slim mandate for power. But it is also a political imperative for Biden to see that he is back in control, as a spike in illness and deaths this summer put the brakes on economic recovery and his political position has deteriorated. Any sign of a failed rollout, or conflicting guidance on vaccines, would also play into the hands of conspiracy theorists and conservative media campaigners, who only took advantage of Colin Powell’s death this week to amplify vaccine misinformation.

A Granthshala/SSRS poll last month reported a 10-point drop in public confidence in the president’s handling of the pandemic – up to 56%.

clear up confusion

The issues raised by vaccines, boosters and safety for young Americans may seem isolated and easy to understand for medical professionals and public health officials. But the explosion of information, the debate about different vaccines and boosters can be confusing to many Americans, especially in a media environment polluted by misinformation about the virus that has already killed 700,000 civilians and is fighting it. Life saving dose.

Most pro-vaccine Americans receive less attention in the media than vaccines and masks and partisans who see an angle to using the pandemic to advance their political and cultural causes. But questions and concerns about boosters have been swirling in workplaces, families and communities for weeks, and clear answers have often been elusive.

More people are getting boosters than newer Covid-19 vaccines.  And others may soon be eligible for an extra shot

The CDC’s decisions are a good sign, but make it even more important for the administration to disseminate clear guidance to the nation. In recent weeks, multiple vaccine approval hearings by regulators, comments from government health officials, scientific reports and promising but unspecified statements about long-term vaccinations for children have led to occasional confusion. The White House this week offered an in-depth briefing on vaccines for children under 11. The goal, officials said, was to show that as a fail-safe scheme many children received the shot as soon as regulatory approval was received. The dosage is given. The briefing also ran the risk of causing confusion because without that right, parents still can’t go out and order vaccines for their young families. While many vaccinated Americans have re-established a semblance of normality – returning to restaurants, playgrounds and movie theaters – many families, frightened by the prospect of infection for young children, still live deeply constrained. are living.

Biden promised Thursday night that vaccines for children would not be approved in “weeks, months and months,” but insisted he was not pressuring anyone and that science would decide the time.

The president expected the pandemic to be behind him by now. And he used the Fourth of July holiday to tell Americans that the worst was over, even though at the time, the Delta version was already taking hold in the United States and experts were rave about the summer boom. were worried which later materialized. While his announcement of a partial victory was premature, the president’s efforts were also hampered by the pandemic’s politicization. Especially in Republican-run states, many citizens refused vaccination for political reasons. The resistance to masking and the mandate for face coverings further exacerbated the spread of the virus.

Various vaccines and mix and match

Another source of confusion is the three different vaccines approved for use in the US. This has sparked debate about which Americans are already eligible for boosters and which are not. People also have to work out the pros and cons of mix-and-match vaccine brands and boosters — an approach Valensky endorsed Thursday, adding that eligible people can choose whatever vaccine they want as a booster. .

Still, at long last, the 15 million Americans who told officials in crisis to get any available vaccine early – and who got the Johnson & Johnson shot – now at least have the answer to their immediate question.

The fog over vaccines is somewhat natural – no one in power has experienced a once-in-a-century pandemic. And evolving science may contradict earlier guidance, as was the case with mask-wearing earlier in the crisis.

But it should come as no surprise that some Americans have taken matters into their own hands, promoting the Pfizer vaccine, for example, in the face of somewhat restrictive guidelines on its use as a third dose. Despite.

Speaking ahead of the CDC’s announcement on Thursday, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said he believed many Americans’ concerns about boosters would go away in the coming days.

“There can be confusion, but I think things are going to be a lot clearer right now when people hear what’s available to them,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS Thursday.

“The mix and match really gives people a good deal of flexibility in what they choose to do,” he said. “And the CDC, I’m sure, will come out with some clear recommendations depending on which category you fit into.”

How the condition develops may depend on a long-term evaluation of the role of booster shots, which will require an evaluation of whether vaccines are intended to keep people from getting sick, or simply to prevent serious infections and deaths.

“We’re trying to make the airplane airborne at some stage,” Dr. Paul Offitt, a member of the FDA Vaccine Advisory Committee, told Granthshala’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday evening. “If the goal is prevention of serious disease, then we’ve really achieved that goal.”

“If the goal is to try to keep your neutralizing antibodies high, which means it will protect you from not only severe disease but also mild disease or asymptomatic infection, then we’re talking about promoting more frequent.”


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