Biden reveals ‘placebo-like’ Omicron plans ahead of bleak Christmas with soaring prices and fears of new variant
Chinese observers say US president's first year in office indicates failure
Published: Dec 22, 2021 11:04 PM
People wait for international passengers to arrive in the international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport amid a surge in omicron variant cases on December 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Photo:VCG

People wait for international passengers to arrive in the international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport amid a surge in omicron variant cases on December 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Photo:VCG

For many Americans, their dream of a white Christmas this year might turn out to be a black one, with fears of an Omicron storm and inflation reaching a 40-year high despite US President Joe Biden's new Omicron plans, and to some Chinese observers, Biden's "placebo-like" plans reflect his biggest governing feature of inaction, which is likely to make him the first US president who "so failed in the first year in office."

As anxiety rose over the spike in cases in the US in the past weeks, Biden on Tuesday announced new plans. Biden said the US government will offer 500 million rapid at-home tests for free to Americans, starting in January, but when those tests will arrive and how they will be delivered is not yet clear, US media reported. 

Biden also encouraged Americans to get a booster shot as "booster shots provide the strongest protection against the Omicron variant." 

Biden's new Omicron plans came as the fast-spreading variant has become the main coronavirus strain in the US, accounting for 73.2 percent of new cases over the past week, with many hospitals struggling with insufficient capacity as they did last year.

Biden said the answer as to whether Americans will go back to March 2020 was "absolutely no."

But Biden's plans apparently did not win much applause from Americans. Under Biden's tweets about his new plan, many commented that the plan was far from enough, and some said it's too little, too late. 

A netizen named Ang asked Biden in her tweet "You know there's 330 million Americans right?!?!? Your number of tests seems awfully insufficient. Why wasn't this sorted MONTHS ago?"

The New York Times said in a report on Tuesday titled "Omicron will surge despite Biden's new plan" that health experts fear that the Omicron variant will not be stopped without harsh measures.

Just days ahead of Christmas, Biden assured Americans on Tuesday that they could still celebrate the Christmas holidays as planned if they had been vaccinated and followed the precautions. 

But Biden might face a sour reality. Many netizens questioned Biden's "approval" for celebrations when scientists have not yet figured out the Omicron, and when the variant has been infecting those who are vaccinated. 

Inflation has also tightened its grip on Christmas in the US due to the challenges of labor shortages and shipping, as prices for a variety of products including food and Christmas decorations soar.

For example, spot wholesale prices for Grade AA butter are up about 40 percent from this time last year to more than $2 a pound. There's plenty of milk to make it, but packing and shipping have been a challenge amid widespread labor and materials shortages, Bloomberg reported. 

Biden's new plans were more like a placebo, and his remarks on Christmas celebrations were a dangerous move that may result in a very dangerous COVID-19 situation early next year, said Chinese analysts. 

Yang Zhanqiu, a deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, told the Global Times that rapid tests can only detect patients. 

How to quarantine and treat patients, and how to prevent wide transmission, require comprehensive measures, such as the social measure of staying at home, rather than what Biden said regarding Christmas celebrations. 

 Lü Xiang, an expert of US studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday that Biden's plans had no new measures and are just some comforting words. 

Controlling an infectious disease requires strict measures in society, but even the president cannot follow the simple step of wearing a mask at public venues, Lü said. 

Biden came under fire when he was pictured without a mask over the Thanksgiving weekend in a shop that had a sign on the window requiring customers to wear face coverings. 

As Biden concludes his first year in office, he is losing an increasing amount of support. According to a new PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll published on Monday, just 41 percent of Americans approve of the job he has been doing as president, and the number of Americans who approve of his performance has hit a new low. 

The PBS report mentioned several fears of Americans including rising prices, the raging Omicron variant and Biden's legislative agenda stalling in Congress. 

Biden's $1.75 trillion domestic investment bill was dealt a significant blow after Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who is key to Biden's hopes of passing the bill, withdrew his support on Sunday. 

The next day, Goldman Sachs trimmed its quarterly GDP forecasts for the US in 2022. 

Biden's biggest governance concept is inaction, as he pinned all his hopes on things such as vaccines and government expenditures, Lü said, noting that he failed in all of these. 

For many Americans, solving domestic problems should be Biden's major task, but he went abroad for empty talks with allies when domestic issues were piling up. 

That partially explained why Biden's support rate began to drop in June when he started his international agenda of visiting his European allies, according to Lü. 

The Biden administration is controlled by just a few people, such as Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and he has let his diplomatic and security teams completely stifle professional teams in commerce and finance in policymaking, which resulted in his series of absurd policies, Lü said. 

Just like Donald Trump, Biden's image is getting rotten for many Americans when he gets more mocking than support, Lü said. 

Trump was booed by audience members in Dallas on Sunday when he said he had received a booster shot, CNN reported. 

Biden is likely to conclude his first year in office as the first US president who so failed in the first year, Lü said.