On CBS’s Face the Nation today, Gottlieb said we’re talking about a form of protective immunity in about 55% of the population, referring to the number of people who have already contracted the virus and/or received at least one dose of vaccine. He said there’s enough valve here, and I don’t think you’ll see a fourth wave.
To date, nearly 30 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 and tens of millions more have contracted the virus without testing positive, which should provide some natural immunity, he added. And right now, about 81 million people have already received at least the first vaccine, giving them some protection.
Nevertheless, new cases of COVID-19 and related deaths will continue to occur in the United States, Gottlieb acknowledged, in part because of the B.1.1.7 variant, which originated in the United Kingdom and is now present in all 50 states.
Not only is it more contagious than previous strains, but it is said to be more deadly for those who contract it.
To clarify his predictions, Gottlieb said: I think you may have seen a plateau for a while before we go lower – largely because (the British version) is becoming more commonplace, largely because we’re retreating too quickly, in the sense of removing our masks and cutting the slack.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, during a 2018 public meeting. (Photo via Flickr/US Department of Agriculture)
The number of new COPID-19 cases in the U.S. has stabilized at about 50,000 per day over the past seven days, according to CNN. But reaching the plateau doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods, as some experts worried about a possible resurgence argue.
Although it currently appears that the United States has the COVID-19 scourge under control, the country’s epidemiological course depends on our ability to stay ahead of current and potential virus variants, Gottlieb warned. It would essentially be a race to vaccinate enough people to stop the spread of the virus before it turns into something even more dangerous.
The only thing that could really make a difference here is an option that breaks down previous immunity, meaning it reinfects people who were already infected or who were vaccinated, he said.
But at least one such tribe already exists and was recently identified in New York. The disease, known as P.1, originated in Brazil, where it recently overwhelmed the national health system and continues to kill thousands of people every day. It can be twice as transmissible as earlier, widespread strains, and has reinfected people previously infected with COVID-19 and recovered. The next question researchers are working on is how resistant this version of the virus might be to vaccines.
A young woman receives the KOVID-19 vaccination. (Photo via iStock/Getty Images E+/Geber86)
It’s time for a crisis, Dr. Peter Hotes, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, told CNN yesterday. This is going to be the hardest phase for us right now, in terms of winning.
Our progress with Covid-19 is fragile. Dr. Joni Haldun, Michigan’s chief medical officer, warned. While we are making great strides in our vaccination efforts and many people are doing the right thing by wearing masks and avoiding large groups, the current data is very disturbing and shows that we are going in the wrong direction.
Currently, only about 13% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and there is still a long way to go to reach the level of immunity needed to suppress the virus. But the mere fact that vaccines are available, combined with the collective eagerness to get out of years of quarantine, threatens to lull us into a false sense of complacency.
Many states have already lifted some or all of the health and safety restrictions and spring breakers are coming in record numbers. In Florida, one of the two states where the B.1.1.7 strain has already become the dominant strain of COVID-19, a state of emergency has just been declared in Miami Beach to contain the masses who have settled on its sunny shores.
Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency room physician in Michigan, told CNN. We’d rather not wait to find out. We’d rather have people pretend, distance themselves, and put down these numbers.