Gottlieb says vaccine strategy “isn’t working” and US needs to “hit reset button”


Washington – Dr Scott Gottlieb, former director of the Food and Drug Administration, said on Sunday that the national strategy for the administration coronavirus vaccines “don’t work” and have urged public health officials to “reset” and take a new approach to vaccinating Americans faster.

“We really need to get this vaccine out faster because it’s really our only tool, our only safety net against the spread of these new variants. If we can get lots of people immunized quickly, maybe we can get enough protective immunity. in the population that it stops spreading at the rate it is, ”Gottlieb said in an interview with“ Face the Nation ”. So we have to recognize that it does not work. We need to reset and adopt a new strategy to try to communicate with patients. “

The rollout of the two coronavirus vaccines, from Pfizer and Germany BioNTech, and Moderna, encountered problems as already stretched hospitals and health services faced staff shortages and logistical challenges. With the vaccine offered to older Americans and healthcare workers, some hospital systems have started offer incentives workers to get their vaccines.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22.1 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed and nearly 6.7 million people have received their first of two doses. To speed up vaccine distribution, President-elect Joe Biden plans to release all available doses rather than withholding the vaccine supply, as the Trump administration does, once he takes office.

Gottlieb also suggested releasing any available supply and said last week that state leaders should consider making the coronavirus vaccines. more widely available people aged 65 and over.

“Right now there are 40 million doses on a shelf somewhere. So the federal government says it’s with the states. The states say it’s with the federal government. really don’t matter to the patient who doesn’t have access to the injection, “he repeated Sunday. “You have 40 million on the board. We have 50 million Americans over 65. So we have the supply to push it to that population more aggressively.”

Gottlieb said the government needs to take an “all-of-the-above approach” and release vaccines through various channels, including big box stores and federal sites.

“We have to try everything now to create multiple distribution points,” he said. “A lot of older people won’t want to go to a stadium to get the shot. They’ll want to go to a pharmacy, local pharmacy or doctor’s office. So we need to give people more opportunities to get the shot where they are. are comfortable. But we need to broadcast them more aggressively. “

While the current issue with vaccinations is in distribution, Gottlieb it will become a supply issue once the logistics are perfected.

“We’re not doing a good job of passing this on to patients,” he said.

There have been more than 22.1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States and more than 372,000 people have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of infections is expected to stabilize this month following a post-holiday surge, but new variants of the coronavirus have been discovered in the UK and South Africa.

Gottlieb said the new strains likely aren’t contributing much to the current spike in the United States and predicted that the British variant accounts for around 0.2% to 0.3% of infections here, although he said the country was not sequencing at a scale large enough to detect the variants.

“We don’t believe these newer variants are currently contributing to the outbreak of infection that we are seeing,” he said. “We think this is a post-vacation rebound, but the bottom line is we need a better system to detect these things so that we can have an adequate public health response.”

Gottlieb said viruses will evolve, so vaccines, antibodies and other therapeutics will need to be updated regularly to keep up with new variants.

“This virus has crossed the world, all over the world, roaming the world without control,” he said. “He’s come under some selective pressure with the widespread use of, say, convalescent plasma. So it’s inevitable that we’re going to see those kinds of mutations in this virus. And it’s probably going to be a constant struggle.”

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