The next is a transcript of an interview with former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb that aired March 21, 2021, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. He sits on the board of Pfizer in addition to Illumina, and he joins us from Westport, Connecticut. Good morning to you.
DOCTOR SCOTT GOTTLIEB: Good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We- after we spoke final Sunday you have been very involved about New York Metropolis and this new variant, B.1.526 that is been circulating. You stated you’ll be very cautious. What do we all know now?
DR. GOTTLIEB: Properly, I am nonetheless involved about it. We’re seeing instances and hospitalizations go down throughout New York, in order that’s a good- good signal. Though testing has additionally plummeted. While you look in sure components of New York, Brooklyn, components of Queens, components of Staten Island, the positivity charge is approaching 15%. So that you’re seeing a whole lot of an infection surging in pockets of New York Metropolis. What we do not perceive with 1.526 is whether or not or not persons are being reinfected with it and whether or not or not individuals who may need been vaccinated are actually getting contaminated with it. One of many considerations about this explicit variant is that it has that mutation that is additionally within the South African variant, within the B.1.351 variant, that we all know in sure instances is inflicting individuals who have already had coronavirus to get reinfected with it. And so the query is- is whether or not 1.526 is liable for among the will increase that we’re seeing in New York proper now and whether or not that is the- the start of a brand new outbreak inside town. We’re simply not excellent proper now at gathering the instances and linking it again to the medical expertise. So we have to step in rather more aggressively and begin sequencing instances, particularly individuals who report that they both have been beforehand vaccinated or already had COVID.
MARGARET BRENNAN: While you say we, you imply the CDC. Who wants to do this?
DR. GOTTLIEB: The CDC, I imply, they should work with the New York Metropolis Public Well being Division, however the metropolis alone is not going to have the sources to do that on a scientific foundation. I feel they’ll step in and begin to do this. However they should be aggressively advertising and marketing to docs, asking docs to return ahead and report instances the place they’re seeing conditions the place individuals who have been beforehand contaminated with COVID could also be getting contaminated. We do not know that is taking place. However anecdotally, some docs are reporting that now and that might doubtlessly clarify why you are seeing an upsurge in instances. It may simply be that, , 1.526 and B.1.1.7 is turning into extra prevalent and that is accountable in and of itself. However you wish to make it possible for it is not reinfecting folks. Proper now, greater than 50% of the infections in New York we all know are with variants. And B1- one- B.1.526 is probably the most prevalent variant proper now. We’re in all probability undercounting it as a result of we’re biasing our- our screening, our sequencing in direction of B.1.1.7. So we’re in all probability lacking instances of B.1.526 proper now. It is in all probability extra prevalent than what we’re detecting.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In the case of B.1.1.7, the variant first detected within the UK, Dr. Fauci stated this week it is about 30% of US infections and it is, what, 50% extra transmissible? It is also doubtlessly extra deadly. While you see these photos of those spring break gatherings in Florida and elsewhere, does that make you rethink your projections right here and fear a few fourth wave?
DR. GOTTLIEB: Properly, I do not assume we will have a fourth wave, I feel what we’re seeing across the nation is components of the nation which can be plateauing, and we’re seeing upticks in sure components of the nation. I feel the truth that we’ve a lot prior an infection, 120 million People have been contaminated with this virus, the truth that we have now vaccinated, we have gotten one shot in at the very least 70 million People, even for those who account for the truth that perhaps about 30% of the folks being vaccinated beforehand had COVID, we’re speaking about some type of protecting immunity in about 55% of the inhabitants. So there’s sufficient of a backstop right here that I do not assume you are going to see a fourth surge. I feel what you may see is a plateauing for a time frame earlier than we proceed on a downward decline, largely as a result of B.1.1.7 is turning into extra prevalent, largely as a result of we’re pulling again too shortly with respect to taking off our masks and lifting the mitigation. However I nonetheless do not assume that it’ll be sufficient to create a real fourth wave. When you have a look at in Europe, the place they’re having a real fourth wave, they’ve solely vaccinated one in- one in 9 adults. Right here within the US, we have vaccinated one in three. Within the U.Okay., which is seeing constant declines, they’ve vaccinated one in two. So the vaccination goes to be a backstop, and we’re persevering with to vaccinate about three million folks a day proper now.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Properly, Mayor Garcetti of Los Angeles was basically saying that his hunch, it feels like, is that these variants of concern in California already ripped via his inhabitants, that that is simply what they noticed with the epidemic in January. What do you consider his thesis?
DR. GOTTLIEB: That is in all probability proper. The- the 2 variants that we’re monitoring in California in all probability have already turn out to be epidemic in that a part of the nation, they usually in all probability have a stage of prior immunity within the inhabitants that you just’re not going to see a real fourth wave. You may see a tick up, however when you get 50, 60% of the general public with some type of immunity, which is the place we’re in lots of components of the nation, there’s not lots of people left to contaminate. And once more, we’re vaccinating towards that. So we’re persevering with to place protecting immunity into the inhabitants. I do assume that the truth that we have form of taken our foot off the brake somewhat too early right here, March was at all times going to be a tough month. Folks wish to lean ahead, however we actually ought to have waited until April. The truth that we have achieved that now in all probability signifies that we’re in all probability going to plateau. Perhaps we’ll see an uptick in sure components of the nation. The one factor that may be an actual game-changer right here is that if we’ve a variant that pierces prior immunity, which means it reinfects individuals who’ve both already been contaminated or who’ve been vaccinated, just like the 1.351 variant, older P.1 variant, the one in Brazil. Now, these variants aren’t epidemic within the US. They’re simply sporadic. However 1.526, the explanation why persons are involved about it, together with me, is it may very well be such a variant. We have to determine it out. We do not know proper now. We have to get higher at figuring out these items.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Dr. Gottlieb, thanks on your evaluation. We’ll be again in a second.