Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb on Sunday said the United States has “failed to contain” the monkeypox outbreak.
In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Gottlieb said the virus is probably now going to become endemic.
“I think [the Centers for Disease Control] is going to be reluctant to use the word pandemic, because it implies that they've failed to contain this,” he said. “And I think at this point, we've failed to contain this. We're now at the cusp of this becoming an endemic virus where this now becomes something that's persistent that we need to continue to deal with.”
But according to Gottlieb, the virus spread “isn't going to explode like COVID.”
“This is a slower moving virus, which is why we could have gotten control of this if we had been more aggressive up front,” he said.
But “we made a lot of the same mistakes that we made with COVID with this,” Gottlieb said, including “having a very narrow case definition, not having enough testing early enough, not deploying vaccines in an aggressive fashion.”
“Now this is firmly embedded in the community,” he said. “And while it's not going to explode, because it's harder for this virus to spread, it's probably going to be persistent —you'll have this as a sort of a fact of life, maybe spreading as a sexually transmitted disease, but also breaking out of those settings.”
Gottlieb noted the U.S. didn’t have “adequate stockpiles” of the vaccine — “the one vaccine that's proven monkeypox, we only had 2,000 doses in a national strategic stockpile.”
“It was there as a hedge against smallpox, we took our eye off that ball, so we didn't replenish that supply,” he said.
Gottlieb said Americans have now started to accept COVID as part of daily life.
“I think most Americans have started to accept this as part of the fabric of daily living. In part that's, that's based on a wholesale recalibration of risk, in part is based on the fact that there's very few people who are immune,” he said.
“So people feel rightly more impervious to a bad outcome. So we have to recognize that this spread is happening against the backdrop basically, of normal living,” he said.
“I don't think we're going to see mandates. I don't think there's a lot of tolerance for mandates, maybe in select cities.”
But Gottlieb said he believes there’s going to be a vaccine based on the BA.4 variant, and that manufacturers are developing that right now.
“There is a bivalent vaccine based on B.1 on the shelf right now that we could be deploying, we're not,” he said. “That probably would be. They've made a decision so far not to deploy that but to wait for the B.4 variant vaccine that's going to be available this fall.”
“Right now, if you're above the age of 50 and you haven't had a dose of vaccine this year, you probably should get one, and as sequencing is good, get a dose now if you're someone who's at high risk and come back and get one later,” he advised.
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