‘Winter of severe illness and death’: Is Biden right to say about unvaccinated?

Susan Walsh / AP

Fact Box

  • On December 16, 2021, President Biden made a speech in the White House stating, “Due to the steps we’ve taken, Omicron has not yet spread as fast as it would’ve otherwise done and as is happening in Europe. But it’s here now, and it’s spreading, and it’s going to increase. For unvaccinated, we are looking at a winter of severe illness and death - if you’re unvaccinated - for themselves, their families, and the hospitals they’ll soon overwhelm.” 
  • On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization announced a new COVID variant, Omicron (B.1.1.529), first reported from South Africa on November 24, 2021. Delta was the previous COVID variant. 
  • The White House released a statement on November 26, 2021, banning travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, the Republic of South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The UK also added six African countries to their travel “red list.”
  • As of December 20, 2021, 204.1 million people have been fully vaccinated in the United States which is 61.5% of the population, while 72.9% have had at least one dose. 
  • Johns Hopkins research shows COVID spikes nationwide have been rising at a higher rate than before the vaccines were available despite more than half the country being fully vaccinated.

Siam (Yes)

Just recently President Biden warned that for all unvaccinated Americans who do not get their shots, the winter could be a time of severe symptoms and death. And the President is on the right track issuing this COVID vaccination warning.

The COVID-19 infection has already killed close to 805,000 Americans. And there are mutated forms of the coronavirus appearing regularly. First, we had the Delta variant and now we have Omicron, which is of major concern. Because, unlike the Delta variant, it can spread much faster. Early data reveal that it can cause recurrence even in vaccinated individuals but the symptom severity appears to be worse in the unvaccinated. Reportedly as of now, the present COVID vaccines protect against Omicron and have been shown to reduce hospitalization and deaths. 

All over the nation, the majority of people admitted to the hospitals are the unvaccinated and they are already taking the majority of ICU beds. On average 1,200 Americans are dying from the infection every day. The news is worse for the unvaccinated as some employers won’t pay for the cost of care. In addition, Illinois is on the verge of passing a bill that will require the unvaccinated to pay for their own medical care. 

The COVID vaccines are not only effective but are also considered safe. To date, the vaccines and the booster shots are a significant way to reduce potential death and hospitalization. Unlike many treatments in the US, the COVID vaccines are free and readily available. Without the shots, the risk of hospital admission and death remains high. 

Curtice (No)

President Biden stated last week, “We are looking at a winter of severe illness and death for the unvaccinated – for themselves, their families and the hospitals they'll soon overwhelm.” To date, there is no data to back up his assertion. The OSHA employer vaccine mandate is unconstitutional and should be shot down by the Supreme Court, so Biden is resorting to heaping fear and stoking condemnation upon Americans who wish to abstain from taking experimental drugs

During the 2020 presidential campaign Biden pledged to unite the country. This is not what uniting the country looks like. Rather, it further divides. The Omicron variant is already here. While it appears to be more contagious, it also is less dangerous—good news. Symptoms have been much more mild than other strains.

A look at South Africa, where the Omicron variant was first identified gives us a more realistic picture than Biden’s does. Dr. Angelique Coetzee, one of the first South Africa doctors to treat patients with the Omicron variant, says that while they saw a rise in cases with the Omicron variant, they did not see a corresponding rise in hospitalizations or deaths. Dr. Coetzee added, “We don’t see a high death rate with Omicron.”

For further emphasis, Joe Phaahla, South African health minister, stated, “Only 1.7 percent of COVID-19 patients were admitted in the second week of infections during the fourth wave of the pandemic, compared to 19 percent in the same week of the third Delta-driven wave.”

If those in power, such as Biden and the media, were to examine the true data and science, they would see Omicron as a blessing, giving everyone natural immunity, and not an excuse to cram down more fear-fueled control over Americans’ right to choose.

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