Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Sunday that getting 25% of the U.S. population vaccinated against the coronavirus would be a “big backstop” against a fourth wave of the virus.
In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Gottlieb noted the United States now is at 15% of its population being fully vaccinated.
“Israel started to see the big declines in cases when they hit about 25% of their population vaccinated,” he said. “So I think that's a pretty big backstop against a true fourth surge.”
“What we're seeing around the nation right now, which is worrisome, are outbreaks in certain states,” he added, naming Michigan, the metro Detroit area, Boston around Massachusetts, the tri-state region, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut as all experiencing an upsurge of infection.
“I think what we need to do is try to continue to vaccinate, surge vaccine into those parts of the country,” he said. “The incremental vaccine that's coming onto the market, I think the Biden administration can allocate to parts of the country that look hot right now.”
“If we could just get two or three more weeks of around three million vaccines a day, that's going to be a pretty big backstop, against a true fourth surge,” he added.
According to Gottlieb, the key to more vaccinations will be getting doses into more outlets where they can be given.
“You need to get the vaccine into community sites that have relationships with patients and get it into more doctor's offices, get it into pharmacies,” he said.
“We should be looking at every single interaction that patients have with the medical system and trying to offer a vaccination at those points of care through a provider that patients know,” Gottlieb asserted. “That's ultimately how we're going to get some people who are more hesitant about being vaccinated to take up the vaccine.”
On the subject of how COVID-19 started, and where, Gottlieb said a Wuhan, China lab leak isn’t likely — but also can’t be dismissed.
“It looks like the [World Health Organization]report was an attempt to try to support the Chinese narrative around this origin of the vaccine,” that it was bouncing back and forth between people and animals for a period of time and finally broke out.
“The lab leak theory doesn't seem like a plausible theory unless you aggregate the biggest collection of coronaviruses and put them in a lab, a minimum-security lab in the middle of a densely populated center and experiment on animals, which is exactly what the Wuhan Institute of Virology did,” he added.
“They were using these viruses in a …lab and, we now know, infecting animals,” he said. “So that creates the opportunity for a lab leak. It might not be the most likely scenario on how this virus got out, but it has to remain a scenario.”
“And I think at the end of the day, we're never going to fully discharge that possibility. What we're going to have here is a battle of competing narratives,” he said.
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