Mar 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Ex-FDA chief says majority of Americans will be gathering "long before" July 4


Photo: Toya Sarno Jordan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Friday that he expects Americans will be having small get-togethers "well before" President Biden's July 4 target.

Catch up quick: Biden announced in a primetime address on Thursday that he was ordering states to make COVID-19 vaccines available to all residents by May 1, and set a goal for Americans to be able to safely congregate in small groups by the Fourth of July

  • But Gottlieb — who led the FDA under President Trump, now serves on Pfizer's board, and has been a leading public health voice throughout the pandemic — said on Friday: "I think we should be giving public health advice that is in line with where people are."
  • "[When] people feel the risk declining because they’ve been vaccinated, because they see infection levels going down in many parts of the country, they’re going to be willing to take more risk because they sense that their vulnerability is declining. And you know what? They’re right."

The big picture: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidance this month that said fully vaccinated people can gather in small groups indoors — without masks — and still be safe.

  • But the agency has cautioned against travel, even for vaccinated Americans, and warned states not to lift restrictions too early out of concern for another coronavirus wave driven by new variants.
  • About 19% of Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, per CDC data. About 10% are fully vaccinated.
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