Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Monday that he believed booster shots of the Covid vaccine would begin to be given in the United States as early as next month to the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.
“I guess by September or October we will be giving booster shots to older people who are definitely immunosuppressed,” said the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, who is currently a member of the board of directors of several companies, whose Pfizer. “I just think we’re on a slower path here,” he said on “Scream box”, in reference to recall plans from other countries.
“Frankly, it’s unfortunate because I think at least for the elderly and people who were vaccinated in December, January should consider this more actively,” he said, adding that these people seem to be. more susceptible to the virus at the moment. “[This is] certainly worrying, as these infections will eventually spread and turn into a more serious illness. “
Gottlieb, who led the FDA from 2017 to 2019 for Donald trump, said the booster would be a third dose of the existing vaccine available in the United States, unless the virus changes that would make vaccines ineffective against current strains. He said the US government has purchased enough vaccines to give boosters to its entire population.
“For people who think this is a zero-sum game and that giving reminders to Americans is going to take vaccines away from other countries, these vaccines have already been purchased. Many of them have been bought. stored, ”Gottlieb said. “They exist and they will not be used unless they are used by the US government. The US government will maintain a stockpile of the Covid vaccine for a national security issue.”
Questions about the need for booster shots circulated ahead of schools reopening in the fall and news spread coronavirus variants.
Two of the three Covid vaccines currently administered in the United States, two-shot regimens from Pfizer and Modern, were cleared for emergency use by the FDA in late December. Both of these companies have requested full approval. The unique vaccine of Johnson & johnson received emergency use authorization in February. J&J has yet to seek full approval.
Nearly 165 million people in the United States are fully vaccinated – nearly 50% of the nation’s population – despite the rate of vaccines administered daily which continues to decline sharply, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. tracker. Some Americans have already found ways to get extra doses of Covid vaccines, some even “Mix and match” vaccines to receive additional injections from different companies.
The nation is seeing a further rise in Covid cases driven by the more contagious delta variant, first discovered in India. It infects the most unvaccinated areas of the United States
Gottlieb reiterated that he believes the United States is further along the pandemic wave than is officially measured right now. He said again, as he did on Friday he wouldn’t be surprised if a million or more Americans are infected every day. He said on Monday that Florida is the epicenter of Covid right now.
“The South will be fine in a few weeks, but you are going to see cases start to increase in the North. [as well]”said Gottlieb, adding that he didn’t think the wave of infections would hit the northern states so badly, as they have higher vaccination rates. Nonetheless, he warned that the northern states would experience a wave. Similar of delta infections in the fall.
“It’s going to coincide with the restarting of schools. I think it’s going to complicate things. It’s a big country, so this epidemic wave is going to hit different regions at different times,” Gottlieb said.
With more time, he said, it may be discovered that spacing out the first two doses of vaccine delivery can give people a more lasting response against the virus. “We can also optimize the way we deliver the first two doses over time, when we have the luxury to do so when we are not in the grip of a raging epidemic.”
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and serves on the boards of directors of Pfizer, genetic testing startup Tempus, health technology company Aetion, and biotech company Illumina. He is also co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean.