Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Biden’s Annus Horribilis

By Andrew Sullivan

And the terrifying tenacity of Trump’s cult.

A year ago, as the vaccines began to arrive and as the nightmare of the Trump administration appeared to be over, I found myself unusually optimistic. In an end-of-year essay I admitted was written in part to cheer myself up, I looked forward to 2021: “No Trump; no quarantine; no viral fear; and the rites of Spring.”

We end 2021 in a rather, er, different place. A new variant of Covid seems likely to tear through the population in the coming weeks. The UK, slightly ahead of us in the Omicron wave, is experiencing a pandemic record for new cases — and that country’s population is one of the most vaccinated and boosted in the world. In America, where parts of the country have large populations of unvaccinated people, we are likely to see just as big a spike in cases, but with a risk of far more hospitalizations and deaths.

Right now, cases in America have soared 31 percent in just two weeks. More tellingly, hospitalizations are up 20 percent over the same period; and deaths up by 23 percent, at an average of around 1300 a day. That’s a rate bordering on 500,000 deaths a year. On top of 800,000 already dead.

If the Biden administration was elected in part on a platform to get control of the epidemic, its record has been depressingly mixed. After a strong start, vaccination rates have faltered. Key tools in curbing the power of the epidemic remain absent: it’s staggering how hard it is to find Covid test kits so people can get a grip on their own health, prevent transmission and jump on early treatment; and bizarre that the FDA still hasn’t approved the enormously effective Covid pill developed by Pfizer. In my view, tests should be ubiquitous and easy — as they are in Britain right now — and the Covid pill should be as available as Tamiflu.


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