Dr. Scott Gottlieb on Friday urged fellow Americans vaccinated to be vigilant about the Covid Delta variant, telling CNBC that its highly communicable nature cannot be ignored even by people with immunity protection.
“The original premise around the vaccines – that they reduce the risk of serious illness and hospitalization – is still intact,” said the former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration in the “Squawk Box”. “We are still seeing in the data that the vast majority of people who get into trouble with Covid are people who are not vaccinated.”
However, Gottlieb, who sits on the board of directors at Covid vaccine maker Pfizer, said the risk for vaccinated people is not zero.
“People who are vaccinated in an environment of this epidemic surge must take appropriate precautions, especially if they are in places with high prevalence of infection,” he said. “You can’t just throw caution to the wind. You can still become a vehicle for dissemination in your community.”
According to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data, the seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases in the United States is 141,060. That is 14% more than a week ago. Cases are increasing by more than 5% in 42 states plus Washington, DC
Gottlieb’s comments on Friday came in response to a question about three vaccinated U.S. Senators – Roger Wicker, Angus King and John Hickenlooper – who announced the day before that they had tested positive for Covid.
“I think there is now a realization that this delta is sufficiently contagious to breach the vaccine protection, especially if you were vaccinated some time ago and have declining immunity, as these senators probably did because they were before vaccinated for a long time. ” “Said Gottlieb, who headed the FDA from 2017 to 2019.
While some scientists disagree with U.S. health officials’ recent decision to approve Covid booster vaccinations starting next month, Gottlieb said he believes the portability of the Delta variant supports the idea of giving Americans third doses. Given his role on Pfizer’s board of directors, Gottlieb said he studied the data showing diminishing immunity protection over time.
“Coincidentally, last December and January we vaccinated some of our most vulnerable elderly people in our society, especially nursing homes,” said Gottlieb. “I think it would be sensible to get extra immunity in this population, especially given that we are dealing with a much more contagious variety.”
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 Inc., and biotechnology company Illumina. He is also co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean.