Gottlieb shakes off CDC’s ‘confusing’ reinforcement messages

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday that “mixed messages” from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about booster shots of COVID-19 “may end up being one of the biggest missed opportunities in this pandemic. “

When presenter Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation” isn’t instructing Americans to get their booster shots now, Gottlieb said the trend in vaccine protection declining is “unmistakable,” before airing. a backup for people to go out and get their third shot.

“Now we see very clear evidence of the decline in the effectiveness of the vaccine over time. There are different reasons why that may be the case, but the trend is unmistakable. And this has been evident since late summer, now it’s very clear, ”Gottlieb said.

“Anyone who is eligible for a booster, and most Americans are probably eligible for a booster right now, you should go out and look for it,” he added.

Americans were left confused in September when CDC officials appeared to disagree on who was eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot.

The agency’s advisory committee announced that it was recommending a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people 65 and older, nursing home residents, and people 18 to 64 years old who have underlying health problems.

The panel was considering including people in potentially high-risk occupations on that list, but ultimately decided against it because they said there was not enough evidence to illustrate that protection in vaccinated people under the age of 50 was declining against serious illness and hospitalization. .

However, a day later, the director of the CDC Rochelle WalenskyRochelle Walensky States Lead Feds On Movers The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented By Facebook – Appeals Court Delays Ruling On Trump Document; Biden to meet Xi 900,000 children expected to be vaccinated in the first week: White House MORE opposed the panel’s recommendation and authorized the booster injection for the larger group, which included those in potentially high-risk settings.

When asked why he thinks the health agency’s reinforcement message was the biggest misstep during the pandemic, Gottlieb, who sits on Pfizer’s board of directors, said giving third injections could have helped address the problem. delta wave before.

“I think when we look back, this may be a great missed opportunity to try to get ahead of this delta wave, again, because this will be the fastest way that we can increase total immunity in the population,” Gottlieb said.

He noted that officials, in addition to tracking total immunity in the population, should be attentive to the “depth of immunity,” which refers to “how many people have a lot of residual immune protection against this virus and are going to be what we call a dead-end host and there is going to be someone who can contract and spread this virus. “

“And the quickest way to turn someone into a dead-end host is to fully vaccinate them. There are a lot of people with decreasing vaccine effectiveness right now who can get and spread this virus. If we give them a booster, we recover. the overall efficacy of that vaccine, “Gottlieb said.

“If you go out and start vaccinating someone right now for the first time, it could take five or six weeks for them to get full immunity in many parts of the country. This delta wave will end in five or six weeks, so we need to do what we can now. himself, ”he added.

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