By The San Diego Union-Tribune

As COVID-19 killed thousands of Americans every day in late 2020 and early 2021, the U.S. government’s rapid success in shepherding the creation, emergency approval and initial rollout of safe, effective, free vaccines was a major public health victory — one made all the more amazing because it came under a president who spent part of his last year in office saying the pandemic was less of a problem than it was. But in another twist, after a good start to his pandemic response, President Joe Biden — who defeated Donald Trump in a campaign that emphasized he would be a stable, reliable hand on the wheel — is increasingly facing criticism that he has failed to rise to the challenge on two key issues.

The first has to do with his administration’s inexplicable passivity in responding to evidence that both the Moderna and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were not as effective in dealing with the variants and subvariants of the original version of the coronavirus. This is of particular concern with the omicron subvariants known as BA.4 and BA.5, which have spread rapidly across the nation in recent months, not only eluding some vaccinations but infecting the vaccinated multiple times. Though this group generally avoids severe health consequences, these reinfections only add to the vaccine skepticism that is common among millions of Americans. Yet it took until June 30 for the Food and Drug Administration to finally urge that vaccines be updated to better address the omicron threat.

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