The White House issued a statement Saturday clarifying remarks that Vice President Kamala Harris made one day earlier in which she admitted the Biden administration did not anticipate waves of COVID-19 variant infections.
What did Harris say?
While speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Harris admitted the Delta and Omicron variants of COVID-19 caught the Biden administration by surprise.
"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, this awful virus has been, which as it turns out, has mutations and variants."
The Biden administration, of course, could not have predicted the specific variants of the virus that have plagued the world. However, viral mutation is a well-established scientific fact, so Harris' admission understandably generated headlines across the media on Friday. After all, President Joe Biden essentially declared victory over COVID-19 in July when he declared American "independence" from the virus.
Harris, however, denied the Biden administration ever declared victory over COVID-19.
"We have not been victorious over it," she told the newspaper. "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."
What did the White House say?
"The vice president's comments referred to the exact kind of mutation," the adviser told CNN. "The administration knew mutations were possible, it's the reason we ordered extra tests, extra gear and extra PPE."
"It is the reason the president, vice president and our entire administration warned early and often that the best way to get on the other side of the pandemic is to get vaccinated. We were and continue to be prepared," the statement reportedly added.
"[Harris] and the president have warned for months, they said the best way to get on the other side of this is to get vaccinated. Why were they doing that? Because they were clear mutations could occur," the adviser said.