AMA supports Biden's latest pandemic strategy

AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD, said in a statement that President Joe Biden’s pandemic plan will make communities safer amid an evolving pandemic and confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.

As the nation moves into the winter, the Biden administration this week unveiled a six-pronged national strategy it says employs the same science-based approach that was used to successfully combat previous variants of COVID-19 earlier this year.

According to the administration, the plan will ensure the country is using every available tool to combat COVID-19 and save even more lives in the months ahead, while also keeping schools open and safe, and protecting the economy from lockdowns and damage.

The United States has come far in its fight against the virus and is more prepared than ever to deal with the challenges of COVID-19.

“We have the public health tools we need to continue to fight this virus without shutting down our schools and businesses,” the administration said in a statement.

The plan includes boosters for all adults, vaccinations to protect children and keep schools open, expanding free at-home testing for Americans, stronger public health protocols for safe international travel, protections in workplaces to keep the economy open, rapid response teams to battle rising cases, supplying treatment pills to prevent hospitalizations and deaths, a commitment to global vaccination efforts, and steps to ensure the nation is prepared for all scenarios.

“This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic,” President Joe Biden said during a press briefing this week. “We have the best vaccine in the world, the best medicines, the best scientists and we’re learning more every single day — and we’ll fight this variant with scientific and knowledgeable actions and speed, not chaos and confusion.”

The medical community continues to lead the fight against COVID-19, and the head of the American Medical Association was optimistic about the administration’s plan.

Gerald E. Harmon, MD, president of the American Medical Association, said Biden’s plan will make communities—and the world—safer in the face of an evolving pandemic and confirmed cases of the Omicron variant.

“The education and outreach program to seniors will save lives by encouraging widespread acceptance of booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccines,” he said in a statement. “About half of eligible seniors have received a booster dose, and this multipronged approach should help move the needle further.”

Moreover, Harmon noted that the expanded approach for vaccinating children 5 and older will help protect kids and allow schools to stay open.

“This, combined with making at-home testing more widely accessible, will ease the anxiety facing many working families,” he said. “Physicians see a lot to like in this plan. We have rolled up our sleeves and will continue to play a pivotal role in safeguarding our patients and communities.”

Harmon added that the Omicron variant again reminds us that this is a worldwide pandemic.

“It will not end until all nations contribute to the widespread availability of vaccines,” he said. “The U.S. is taking the lead with 1.2 billion donated vaccines and we expect other countries will follow.”

Harmon also lauded the administration for its pledge to deliver 200 million more doses in the next 100 days and the AMA is encouraging the Biden Administration to continue to work on multiple fronts to vaccinate the globe.

According to the White House news release, Biden’s plan encourages people to get their booster shots. To increase these numbers, the administration will team with AARP to provide free rides to the shots for older Americans.

The plan would see Americans with private insurance receive a reimbursement for at-home tests, which can be difficult to find and are costly.

The president also is urging employers to provide paid time off to workers so they can receive their booster vaccine.

To slow the spread of the virus and its variants, the administration will require people traveling from other countries to the United States to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours of their departure.