2021 was a bad year for President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 promises. Much of the president’s campaigning about the coronavirus during the 2020 election was based on former President Donald Trump’s “ineptitude” at handling the disease. Yet, nearly two years since the pandemic began, more have died under Biden than Trump, despite the widespread availability of vaccines.
According to a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll , 53% approve of Biden’s response to the coronavirus, down from 69% when he first took office. 2021 wasn’t the return to normalcy many expected from a president who promised to put the pandemic behind them. Instead, it was a wake-up call about Biden’s failed and broken promises. “Two hundred and twenty thousand deaths. If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this: Anyone who is responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States,” said then-candidate Biden. On Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2021, the U.S. had suffered 428,241 deaths from COVID-19. Almost a year into a Biden presidency, the number is 820,355.
The Biden administration claimed it was ready to tackle the virus, which would ultimately create a pathway for the public to “return to normal.” The emergence of the delta and omicron variants, however, proved Biden in fact did not have a clear plan to tackle the virus. During the 2020 campaign, Biden said he would make sure the U.S. would “move in the direction of rapid testing” and invest in rapid testing.
More than a year later, and 11 months into the Biden presidency, the public has a testing shortage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended using rapid at-home tests ahead of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant. Still, the administration failed to order more tests. Biden says if his administration had known about the new omicron variant, “we’d have gone harder and quicker if we could have.”
If Biden really had a concrete plan, his administration’s response to the delta variant’s emergence would have showcased the administration’s plan to tackle the spread. Health experts were telling the administration to expect more variants and mutations until the rest of the world gains better access to COVID-19 vaccines. Biden should have been prepared to tackle omicron and should have, at the very least, been able to order more tests.
More were vaccinated at this point than any other point since the beginning of the pandemic, yet the administration failed to anticipate the emergence of a new variant and underestimated the number of rapid take-home tests that would be required for holiday testing. In 2021, the administration pushed through a partisan reconciliation bill that included an additional $47.8 billion for testing. Where did that money go? How much, if any, of it has been used for additional COVID-19 tests?
If the Biden administration has a plan to defeat COVID-19, when will the public see it?
Ashley Carnahan graduated from UC Berkeley with an undergraduate degree in business administration and a minor in Russian.