Dr. Scott Gottlieb says U.S. delta-driven Covid spike could peak in 3 weeks, following U.K. pattern

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CNBC 26 July, 2021 - 08:35am 53 views

Speaking to CBS's "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson, Gottlieb said the makeup of the delta variant is not vastly different from those of prior dominant strains of COVID-19.

"So it's not more airborne and it's not more likely to be permeable to a mask. So a mask can still be helpful," Gottlieb said. "I think, though, if you're going to consider wearing a mask, the quality of the mask does matter. So if you can get your hands on a KN95 Mask or an N95 masks, that's going to afford you a lot more protection."

Gottlieb also said that at the beginning of the pandemic, health experts advised against acquiring such masks due to shortages, but he praised the Biden administration for "ramping up" supply.

"So I would encourage people look at the quality of the mask and try and get their hands on a better quality of mask," he said.

Gottlieb also spoke about how transmissible the delta variant is, stating that vaccinated people are still less likely to spread it, though the chances of transmission are likely higher when compared to the transmissibility of older strains.

"There probably is a higher chance that you can transmit this delta virus than some of the old strains because there's just more of this virus. The viral levels are higher earlier in the course of the infection," Gottlieb said.

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Gottlieb says U.S. likely "much further in this epidemic than we're picking up"

CBS News 26 July, 2021 - 06:38am

"We're not doing a lot of testing. More of the testing that we are doing is antigen tests that are being done at home and not getting reported," Gottlieb said. "So, I think we're much further into this epidemic than we're picking up and hopefully further through this epidemic." 

According to the CDC's latest model, the agency predicts that over the next three weeks, there may be between 90,000 and 800,000 new cases — a huge range. Showing an even larger disparity, the CDC estimates that for the week ending August 14, there will be from an average of 10,000 infections a day to more than 100,000. Gottlieb believes this range is an indication that the agency doesn't have a good sense of where the outbreak is headed.    

"I believe that there is more virus than we're picking up right now," Gottlieb said. "There's probably a lot of people with mild to subclinical infection since more of the infection is happening in a younger population that's less likely to become very symptomatic." 

Gottlieb said that it appears the U.S. is about three or four weeks behind the United Kingdom, and using that country as a model, the U.S. could be turning a corner soon. 

"If you look at the U.K., they do in the last seven days appear to be turning a corner. You're starting to see a downward trajectory on the cases. Now, it's unclear whether that's going to be sustained," Gottlieb added. 

Gottlieb said the CDC is only tracking breakthrough infections when people are hospitalized, but medical professionals "need to understand whether or not vaccinated people are developing subclinical and mild infections and whether or not they can spread the virus, because that's going to inform the kinds of decisions that they make."

"It's a question I get a lot from vaccinating individuals is whether or not they can spread the infection," Gottlieb said. "Again, we know that they were far less likely to spread the infection with the other variants. We don't know a lot about this Delta. This is a question that can be answered, and CDC should be looking at this." 

Despite that the Delta variant is more transmissible than previous variants, Gottlieb said the "characteristics of the virus haven't changed as far as we know."

"So it's not more airborne," Gottlieb said. "It's not more likely to be permeable through a mask. So a mask can still be helpful. I think, though, if you're going to consider wearing a mask, the quality of the masks does matter. So if you can get your hands on a KN95 mask or an N95 mask, that's going to afford you a lot more protection." 

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Gottlieb says U.S. likely "much further in this epidemic than we're picking up"

Eat This, Not That 26 July, 2021 - 06:38am

"We're not doing a lot of testing. More of the testing that we are doing is antigen tests that are being done at home and not getting reported," Gottlieb said. "So, I think we're much further into this epidemic than we're picking up and hopefully further through this epidemic." 

According to the CDC's latest model, the agency predicts that over the next three weeks, there may be between 90,000 and 800,000 new cases — a huge range. Showing an even larger disparity, the CDC estimates that for the week ending August 14, there will be from an average of 10,000 infections a day to more than 100,000. Gottlieb believes this range is an indication that the agency doesn't have a good sense of where the outbreak is headed.    

"I believe that there is more virus than we're picking up right now," Gottlieb said. "There's probably a lot of people with mild to subclinical infection since more of the infection is happening in a younger population that's less likely to become very symptomatic." 

Gottlieb said that it appears the U.S. is about three or four weeks behind the United Kingdom, and using that country as a model, the U.S. could be turning a corner soon. 

"If you look at the U.K., they do in the last seven days appear to be turning a corner. You're starting to see a downward trajectory on the cases. Now, it's unclear whether that's going to be sustained," Gottlieb added. 

Gottlieb said the CDC is only tracking breakthrough infections when people are hospitalized, but medical professionals "need to understand whether or not vaccinated people are developing subclinical and mild infections and whether or not they can spread the virus, because that's going to inform the kinds of decisions that they make."

"It's a question I get a lot from vaccinating individuals is whether or not they can spread the infection," Gottlieb said. "Again, we know that they were far less likely to spread the infection with the other variants. We don't know a lot about this Delta. This is a question that can be answered, and CDC should be looking at this." 

Despite that the Delta variant is more transmissible than previous variants, Gottlieb said the "characteristics of the virus haven't changed as far as we know."

"So it's not more airborne," Gottlieb said. "It's not more likely to be permeable through a mask. So a mask can still be helpful. I think, though, if you're going to consider wearing a mask, the quality of the masks does matter. So if you can get your hands on a KN95 mask or an N95 mask, that's going to afford you a lot more protection." 

For Breaking News & Analysis Download the Free CBS News app

Copyright © 2021 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.

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