Public health expert Leana Wen said that President Biden “declared victory too soon” over the coronavirus pandemic.
Wen said that the virus had continued to spread in part because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dropped mask mandates without recommending a proof of vaccination, Yahoo News reported Saturday.
The CDC announced in May that fully vaccinated individuals were no longer required to wear masks in either indoor or outdoor settings. As cases have surged as a result of the Delta variant, the CDC updated its guidelines July 27, recommending once again that mandates apply to everyone regardless of vaccination status in high transmission areas.
Wen told Yahoo News that the Biden administration’s “single biggest mistake” was not requiring people to show proof of vaccination, which she argues led to unvaccinated people voluntarily entering public places without a mask. (RELATED: POLL: Majority Of Unvaccinated Americans Say They Don’t Want The Shot)
“The single biggest mistake that the Biden administration made during the pandemic response — and I would argue in the entire Biden presidency — was back in May when the CDC said that vaccinated people can take off their mask, but did not have proof of vaccination attached to it,” Wen said. “And as a result, people understood the pandemic to be over them. The unvaccinated began behaving like the vaccinated.”
“President Biden absolutely declared victory too soon,” the public health expert continued. “That said, I also do want to commend the Biden administration for a lot of their efforts. I mean, they have been exceptional in ensuring vaccine supply and increasing distribution.”
This messaging is much improved! Good work @CDCgov @WHCOVIDResponse to be very clear that it’s the unvaccinated & failure of the honor code that has led to this week’s reversal in mask guidance. The vaccinated are not the problem! @mawilner https://t.co/SGQkEjJUOW https://t.co/DItpFdr4gW
— Leana Wen, M.D. (@DrLeanaWen) July 31, 2021
The public health expert added that if all citizens were vaccinated, there would be no need for mask mandates, Yahoo News reported.
“If the eligible people in this country were all vaccinated right now, we probably would not need to be wearing masks. It is really an issue of the unvaccinated making life harder for everyone else,” Wen said.
Wen said the U.S. has a “serious date problem” since the CDC unexpectedly halted studies and data on breakthrough infections, she told the outlet. She warned that a vaccinated person will be infected through a breakthrough infection if they are surrounded by a handful of unvaccinated people.
“If you’re in and out of daily thunderstorms, at some point, you’re going to get wet,” she said. “And that’s because if you are around all these unvaccinated, potentially infected people, at some point, there is going to be a breakthrough.”
Wen called for vaccine mandates for COVID-19, comparing it to mandating immunization for other illnesses, according to the outlet.
“We have laws in all 50 states that mandate vaccines. That’s the reason why we don’t have polio, why we don’t have smallpox, why we have relegated many of these illnesses that used to kill so many children to the history books,” she said. “We could do the same with COVID-19.
Wen previously criticized the CDC for recommending that fully vaccinated individuals avoid travel in a March interview with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin, saying the organization is “overly cautious in a way that defies common sense.”