Oct 18, 2020 - Health

Ex-FDA head: White House coronavirus strategy of waiting for vaccine is "problematic"

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday the White House strategy to combat the spread of coronavirus appears to be "to endure the spread until we get to that vaccine."

Why it matters: That strategy, which leaves much of the mitigation efforts up to the states and excludes a national mask mandate, is "problematic" because the "first tranche of people to get vaccinated really won't be protected ... probably until February and maybe March," even if companies apply in November with the FDA to administer the vaccine, Gottlieb said.

  • "We're going to have to endure this wave of spread right now — and it's probably likely to be the biggest wave that we endure — without the benefit of a vaccinated population, so we're going to have to rely on those mitigation steps."
  • Gottlieb is on the board of Pfizer, one of the companies developing a vaccine. The company's CEO has said it hopes to know the efficacy of its product by the end of October.

What he's saying: "If you look at the White House strategy, they've come out against universal masking, they've come out against testing asymptomatic and moderately symptomatic people, they say testing should be reserved just to the vulnerable," Gottlieb said.

  • "They want businesses and schools reopened, as we all do, and they're against targeted mitigation like closing restaurants. ... So it begs the question: What is the strategy? And I think the strategy is just to endure the spread until we get to that vaccine."

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