Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb predicted Wednesday that the delta variant surge across the U.S. would last just a few weeks.
Speaking on CNBC, Gottlieb questioned whether new masking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was the right call, and reminded that while the vaccines are safe and effective, they are not an impenetrable shield against infection.
“The bottom line is, the vaccine does not make you impervious to infection,” Gottlieb said. “There are some people who are developing mild and asymptomatic infections even after vaccination.”
Gottlieb also acknowledged that the delta variant was “much more transmissible” than the original strain, but questioned whether the spike in cases should necessarily lead to enforcing masks or vaccine requirements.
“I don’t think we’re gonna 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.”
"If you are vaccinated in a high prevalence area, in contact with virus, you think you might have the virus because you have mild symptoms–be prudent, get tested, maybe wear a mask especially if you are around a vulnerable person," says @ScottGottliebMD. pic.twitter.com/LFlMffkfe9
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) July 28, 2021
He 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 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, 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.”