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Kamala Harris Admits White House ‘Didn’t See’ Delta and Omicron Covid-19 Strains Coming

Christophe Ena/AP

In a wide-ranging interview with the Los Angeles Times, Vice President Joe Biden made an open disclosure about Covid variants. Kamala Harris has admitted that the Biden administration was unaware of the introduction of the Delta and Omicron Covid-19 strains, and she believes that “misinformation” about vaccines may prolong the pandemic for a third year.

The candid revelation occurred during a wide-ranging interview with the Los Angeles Times, which came after allegations that the vice president was “struggling” to build a name for himself as Joe Biden’s No. 2 and desired a bigger role. Biden’s handling of the pandemic, as well as other problems like soaring prices and a supply chain crisis, has contributed to a steady decrease in his popularity.

A White House official told NBC News on Saturday that the president would deliver a speech on Covid-19 on Tuesday, in which he would disclose new measures to combat the virus, including initiatives to “help communities in need of assistance”. Biden would also be “issuing a stark warning of what the winter will look like for Americans that choose to remain unvaccinated”, the official said.

Harris, who has suffered from the same low approval ratings as the 79-year-old president, was considered a shoo-in for the Democratic presidential candidacy in 2024 until Biden announced last month that he would seek re-election. The White House said on Thursday Harris would be his running mate again.

In addition to speaking with the LA Times, Harris had a heated exchange with radio personality Charlamagne Tha God on Friday. Charlamagne Tha God questioned whether Biden or Joe Manchin, the centrist Democrat from West Virginia who has outsized authority in the 50-50 Senate, was the “real” president at the end of a testy interview that Harris aides apparently tried to cut short.

“C’mon, Charlamagne,” Harris snapped. “It’s Joe Biden. No, no, no, no. It’s Joe Biden, and don’t start talking like a Republican, about asking whether or not he’s president.”

Harris’s remarks about Covid, in which she appeared to blame the medical community for a lack of foresight, seem to back with the administration’s belief that the epidemic is the biggest roadblock to progress.

“We didn’t see Delta coming. I think most scientists did not – upon whose advice and direction we have relied – didn’t see Delta coming,” Harris said. “We didn’t see Omicron coming. And that’s the nature of what this awful virus has been, which as it turns out, has mutations and variants.”

Despite the White House and federal health officials’ attempts to encourage immunizations and boosters, Harris said the public needed to have more trust in Covid-19 vaccines. “I would take that more seriously,” Harris said of disinformation promoted in Republican circles and swirling elsewhere, successfully dissuading people from getting a shot.

“The biggest threat still to the American people is the threat to the unvaccinated. And most people who believe in the efficacy of the vaccine and the seriousness of the virus have been vaccinated. That troubles me deeply.”

Data analysis backs up Harris’ statements, revealing that 91 percent of Democrats have gotten the first shot, compared to only 60 percent of Republicans. Compared to places that voted for Biden, deaths from Covid-19 are increasingly in areas that voted for Donald Trump in 2020.

On Friday, the government won a victory when an appeals court ruled that the administration’s vaccine mandate for major businesses may go into force. Republicans, on the other hand, are attempting to carry the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

“We have not been victorious over [Covid-19],” Harris told the LA Times, appearing to counter Biden’s claim in July that the virus “no longer controls our lives”.

“I don’t think that in any regard anyone can claim victory when, you know, there are 800,000 people who are dead because of this virus.” Biden’s Build Back Better domestic spending plan, immigration, and voting rights were also discussed in the LA Times interview, all hot-button issues on which the government has made little progress.

As per TheGuardian, Harris expressed frustration over the failure to pass the $1.75 in economic and climate spending package, which Biden said would miss the Christmas deadline on Friday, but gave no alternative plan.

Although she blamed Republican stonewalling, the measure is being held up in particular by Manchin. “We have to keep appealing to the American people that they should expect Congress and their elected representatives to act on the issue,” Harris said. “We can’t give up on it, that’s for sure.”

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