Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that since the Delta variant wave of the coronavirus pandemic has already run its course, the impact of the new “confusing” CDC mask guidelines will not have a big impact.
Co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin said, “It feels like over the past 24, 48, 72 hours things have shifted, at least our understanding has shifted. The thing that struck me most was the comment from the CDC director effectively suggesting that they believe if there’s a breakthrough infection in somebody who’s vaccinated that they have as much of the virus in them and the ability to shed it and therefore share it with others as somebody who’s unvaccinated.”
Gottlieb said, “Well, look, I don’t think things have shifted. I think they’ve gotten more confusing for the average consumer because of the shifting advice from CDC. The bottom line is, and we’ve said on this show many times, the vaccine doesn’t make you impervious to the infection. There are some people developing mild symptoms after vaccination. If you live in a high prevalence area, the advice I have been giving people is that if you are taking care of young children or other people who are vulnerable, you should be mindful that even if you are vaccinated, if you are in contact with the virus, there is a risk you could contract the virus. With a much more transmittable strain like Delta, where you develop high viral levels earlier in the course of the infection, there is probably also a risk that you can transmit the virus. People need to be mindful of that if they are in contact with someone who can be vulnerable.”
He continued, “Whether or not that should then translate into general guidance for the entire population that if you are vaccinated, you should wear a mask, I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t think we’re going to get enough bang for our buck by telling vaccinated people they have to wear masks at all times to make it worth our while. I think we’re further into this Delta wave than we’re picking up. I have been saying that for weeks. I think in another two or three weeks, we’ll be through this. This new guidance will have a negligible impact on that.”
Gottlieb added, “I think much more prudent guidance to people would be that if you are vaccinated, you in a high prevalence area, you are in contact with the 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’re around a vulnerable person. That should be the bottom line guidance we give CDC is having trouble measuring this right now.”
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