As more Americans get vaccinated, a fourth coronavirus surge is unlikely, former FDA chief says
  • US COVID-19 cases were falling for months, though they have plateaued somewhat in recent weeks.
  • Ex-FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CBS that with millions vaccinated, another surge is unlikely. 
  • However, he cautioned against reopening too quickly, especially with more transmissible variants. 
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As more Americans develop immunity against the coronavirus, it’s unlikely the country will experience another surge in cases, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration said during an interview that aired Sunday.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CBS’s Face the Nation that as the vaccination rate goes up, coupled with the millions of Americans who may have natural immunity after becoming infected, it’s unlikely the US will endure another significant rise in cases. 

“We’re talking about some form of protective immunity in about 55% of the population,” Gottlieb said. “There’s enough of a backstop here that I don’t think you’re going to see a fourth surge.”

However, Gottlieb added that it’s likely US case numbers will stay plateaued for a while before they start trending down again, citing two reasons: the more contagious coronavirus strain first discovered in the United Kingdom that is now more prevalent, as well as “because we’re pulling back too quickly with respect to taking off our masks and lifting the mitigation.”

More than 81.4 million Americans, or a quarter of the country, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 44.1 million fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

“If you look at in Europe, where they’re having a true fourth wave, they’ve only vaccinated one in- one in nine adults. Here in the US, we’ve vaccinated one in three. In the U.K., which is seeing consistent declines, they’ve vaccinated one in two. So the vaccination is going to be a backstop, and we’re continuing to vaccinate about three million people a day right now,” Gottlieb said.

Close to 30 million Americans have been infected by the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Gottlieb said if a variant that is able to pierce through immunity spreads, it could change the US trajectory.

Other experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have also previously cautioned against drastically lifting coronavirus restrictions, saying while cases are going down, the plateau is not low enough. 

“I don’t know why they’re doing it, but from a public-health standpoint it’s certainly ill-advised,” Fauci, who is President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor, told CNN earlier this month after some states lifted mask mandates.

“Just pulling back on all of the public-health guidelines that we know work — and if you take a look at the curve, we know it works — it’s just inexplicable why you would want to pull back now.”

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