Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, predicts that the surge of the Delta variant of COVID-19 across the U.S. will last just a few more weeks.
Speaking on CNBC, Gottlieb questioned whether new masking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was the right call, and reminded viewers that although the COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, they are not an impenetrable shield.
“The bottom line is, the vaccine does not make you impervious to infection,” Gottlieb, a physician, said. “There are some people who are developing mild and asymptomatic infections even after vaccination.”
In the interview Wednesday, Gottlieb also acknowledged that the Delta variant is “much more transmissible” than the original strain of the coronavirus, but questioned whether the spike in cases should necessarily lead to enforcing masks or vaccine requirements.
“I don’t think we’re going to get enough bang for our buck by telling vaccinated people they have to wear masks at all times to make it worth our while,” Gottlieb said. “I think we’re further into this Delta wave than we’re picking up. I think in another two or three weeks we’ll be through this.”
The former FDA commissioner added that the new guidance could have a “negligible impact” on reducing the virus’ spread. Multiple polls have shown that unvaccinated Americans—who make up the overwhelming majority of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths—are far less likely to adhere to the new guidelines than their vaccinated counterparts.
The CDC announced its new guidance Tuesday, urging Americans to wear masks indoors where the Delta variant is most prevalent regardless of vaccination status. The variant is responsible for over 80% of the country’s new cases, and has surged in areas where vaccination rates are low.
“If you are vaccinated in a high prevalence area, in contact with virus, [and] you think you might have the virus because you have mild symptoms of it, be prudent, get tested, maybe wear a mask especially if you are around a vulnerable person,” Gottlieb said on CNBC. “That should be bottom line guidance we give.”
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