Axios: Biden Administration Falls Behind on COVID


Six months after saying the U.S. had reached “independence from COVID-⁠19,” President Joe Biden finds his administration being criticized for failing to deal with the pandemic adequately.

A surge in COVID infections, due largely to the omicron variant, has put the spotlight on Biden and his team. Experts say the administration could have done more to better prepare the nation, Axios reported Wednesday.

While many critics say the administration has been reactive to COVID crises rather than proactive, some experts say the biggest mistake has been over-relying on vaccines.

Biden announced Tuesday that the government would provide 500 million free rapid tests, increase support for hospitals, and redouble vaccination and boosting efforts.

“[T]his is lovely, but it would have been really nice to think about how to provide surge capacity a month ago,” Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and academic dean for Brown’s School of Public Health, told Axios.

“Everything in this plan that he released today is what I want to see. I just wish we’d had it earlier.”

Axios reported that there’s widespread agreement that Biden and his team should have made cheap, at-home rapid tests more widely available months ago.

“There needs to be a commitment from the administration to make rapid, at-home tests available for every American to be able to test twice a week,” Leana Wen, an emergency physician and former Baltimore health commissioner, told Axios.

“Five hundred million tests sounds like a lot, but it’s not nearly enough.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, as of Dec. 16, 61.2% of the U.S. population had been fully vaccinated (two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine).

As of Sunday, more than 60.2 million booster doses — only about 30% of the fully vaccinated U.S. population — had been administered across the country, The Washington Post reported.

Biden took offense at the suggestion his administration had moved too slow in regard to COVID.

“What took so long is — it didn’t take long at all,” Biden claimed. “What happened was the omicron virus spread even more rapidly than anybody thought.”

A senior administration official told Axios, “There are regulatory processes in which we have to work within this country. That’s just the reality.”

“And we are doing all we can to follow the science — that is our north star — and take the steps we can to stay ahead of the virus at the same time,” the official told Axios. “So you have to balance those two things.”