The contagious delta variant is continuing to spread in the U.S., and public health officials warn it could shape to become the catalyst for another dangerous outbreak, The Hill reported.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Wednesday he believes enough Americans are fully vaccinated to delay the risk presented by the delta variant.
“The question is: Are there enough unvaccinated people that this could get into the population and start spreading more widely? I happen to think it’s unlikely that this is going to be a threat until the fall, perhaps,” the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
While the U.S. has been seeing a steady decline in COVID-19 cases, the delta variant, denoted as B.1.617.2, composes roughly 2.5 percent of the total infections in the U.S — up from roughly 1.3 percent as of June 2, according to The Hill.
The delta variant, meanwhile, is becoming the dominant variant in the United Kingdom. The U.S. and U.K. now have around 53% of adults fully vaccinated against COVID-19. However, Gottlieb said England’s decision to delay the administration of second doses in order to give more people initial shots “probably opened the door to this spreading a little bit more widely,” CNBC reported.
“It does seem to be a more dangerous variant,” Gottlieb added. “That said, two doses of the vaccine seem to be very protective.”
It stands to reason that “people who are fully vaccinated, I think, are pretty well protected against this new variant based on the accruing evidence,” he said.
At a White House briefing Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called out as examples COVID vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca — which is used in the U.K. but not the U.S. — saying they were around 33% effective in protecting against the delta variant after one dose. For Pfizer, that rose to 88% efficacy after the second dose, Fauci said, while AstraZeneca’s vaccine was 60% effective, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“We cannot let that happen in the United States,” Fauci said, while emphasizing the need for more people to get the vaccine.
“We want to get to and above the goal of 70% of the adult population receiving at least one dose by the Fourth of July,” he said.
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