Recipients can’t let their guard down, says Dr Scott Gottlieb

Dr Scott Gottlieb on Thursday warned those vaccinated against the coronavirus not to let down their guards just yet, telling CNBC they should adhere to public health measures such as wearing masks.

The former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner said the advice was especially important for older Americans who are at a higher risk of death or serious illness from Covid-19.

“I think for an older person who is vulnerable to this virus, definitely … wait awhile after the second shot until you are likely to have full protective immunity,” Gottlieb said on ” Squawk Box “. “I don’t think people should feel completely safe after the first hit.”

The two Covid vaccines that have received emergency use clearance from the FDA require two doses. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech developed one of the vaccines, while Moderna manufactures the other. Gottlieb sits on the Pfizer Board of Directors.

About 10.3 million Americans received their initial injection of Covid on Wednesday morning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 29.4 million doses have been distributed.

The fragile vaccine rollout comes as the country continues to see high levels of coronavirus infection and more deaths from Covid-19. The seven-day average of daily new cases in the country is 245,306, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. An average of 3,360 Americans died from Covid-19 per day over the past week, the second highest record on record.

Vaccine recipients have yet to take public health precautions because the epidemic in the United States remains so large and “infection is everywhere,” Gottlieb said. “If you are a vulnerable person, even if you have received the second vaccine and think you have full protective immunity to the vaccine, it is still very safe to continue to wear a mask and take precautions.”

“That doesn’t mean you have to hibernate and avoid seeing family,” added Gottlieb, who led the FDA in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019. “Maybe you can lean forward to that. regard, but wear a mask. Be more careful in these interactions, because in a very widespread environment, you are always at risk. “

As more Americans get vaccinated against Covid-19, Gottlieb said this should reduce overall infection rates in the United States and significantly reduce the intensity of the outbreak. At this point, he said it would make more sense to “relax” some precautions.

“I hope it will be summer, spring, if these new variants don’t gain a foothold here in the United States and change our trajectory,” he said, referring to the strains of coronavirus initially found. in the UK and South Africa. considered to be more transmissible.

Ohio researchers said on Wednesday they had discovered two new variants likely originating in the United States

Last week, Gottlieb warned Americans that a return to pre-pandemic life was unlikely in 2021. For example, he told CNBC that public places may still require people to take their temperatures before entering. .

“I just think things are going to be different, just like they are different when you go through an airport now after September 11,” he said last week. “I don’t think masks will be mandatory next fall and winter if we can increase the immunization rate and if these new variants go away or don’t become widespread. But I think a lot of people will want to wear masks, and it’s OK. “

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the board of directors of Pfizer, a genetic testing start-up Tempus and biotechnology company Illumina. He is also co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean.

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