DR. Scott Gottlieb CNBC said on Wednesday it believes enough Americans are fully vaccinated to delay the risk of the Delta-Covid variant.
“The question is, are there enough unvaccinated people for this to get into the population and spread further? I happen to think it unlikely that this could pose a threat until the fall,” the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner said “Squawk Box.”
Gottlieb’s comments come when speculation arises that the Britain could delay the lifting of all lockdown measures in England, scheduled for June 21st, due to the increasing distribution of the Delta variant, which was first discovered in India.
The most severe cases with the Delta variant appear to occur in unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated people, said Gottlieb. “It appears to be a more dangerous variant. However, two doses of the vaccine appear to be very protective.”
“People who are fully vaccinated are, in my opinion, fairly well protected against this new variant based on the evidence available,” added Gottlieb, who headed the FDA in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019. He’s now on the vaccine maker’s board of directors Pfizer.
On Tuesday, White House senior medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, stressed the importance of Americans are fully vaccinated to protect against the Delta variant. Currently, Fauci accounts for more than 6% of US coronavirus infections that scientists have genetically sequenced.
The delta variant is now becoming the dominant variant in the UK. In the USA and Great Britain, around 53% of adults are now fully vaccinated against Covid. Gottlieb, however, agreed to England’s decision delay the administration of the second dose to give more people first shots, “probably opened the door to this spread a little further”.
At a Briefing at the White House On Tuesday, Fauci cited Pfizer and Covid vaccines as examples AstraZeneca – which is used in the UK but not the US – and says they were about 33% effective in protecting against the Delta variant after one dose. For Pfizer, effectiveness increased to 88% after the second vaccination, Fauci said, while AstraZeneca’s vaccine was 60% effective. according to the National Institutes of Health.
“It seems that two doses of the vaccine against these variants are more important than against the old strain of the virus,” said Gottlieb.
Despite advances in vaccination in the United States, Gottlieb admitted that there could be worrying situations in the country with the Delta variant. “If you have a community that has a lot of unvaccinated people and you have a super-sprawling event with Delta … you could get an outbreak here.”
Covid cases in the US continue to decline. The 7-day average of the country’s daily news Coronavirus According to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the number of infections is around 14,400. That is around 17% less than a week ago. It also means a decrease of over 60% about a month ago. The highest single day of new cases in the US was 300,462 on January 2.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC employee and a member of the board of directors of Pfizer, genetic testing startup Tempus, health technology company Aetion, and biotechnology company Illumina. He is also co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean.