Dr. Scott Gottlieb on Thursday warned recipients of coronavirus vaccines against letting their guards down immediately and told CNBC that they should adhere to public health measures such as wearing masks.
The former U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner said the counseling is particularly important for older Americans who are at higher risk for death or serious illness from Covid-19.
“I definitely think an elderly person who is vulnerable to this virus, definitely … wait a while after the second shot until you probably have full protective immunity,”
Both Covid vaccines, which have been approved for emergency use by 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 board of Pfizer.
About 10.3 million Americans have received their first Covid shot since Wednesday morning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 29.4 million doses have been distributed.
The shocking vaccine rollout comes as the nation continues to see high levels of coronavirus infection and more deaths from Covid-19. The country’s seven-day average of new daily cases is 245,306, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. An average of 3,360 Americans have died from Covid a day over the past week, the second-highest number recorded.
Vaccine recipients still need to take public health measures because the U.S. outbreak remains so significant and “infection is everywhere,” Gottlieb said. “If you are a vulnerable person, even if you have had the second shot and you think you have full protective immunity to the vaccine, it is still very wise to continue wearing a mask and taking precautions.”
“It does not mean you should sleep and avoid seeing family,” added Gottlieb, who headed the FDA in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019. “Maybe you can lean forward in that regard, but wear a mask. Be more careful in these interactions, because in a highly prevalent environment, you are still at risk. “
As more Americans are being vaccinated, Gottlieb said it should lower overall U.S. infection rates and significantly limit the intensity of the epidemic. At the time, he said it would make more sense to “relax” some precautions.
“It will hopefully be summer, spring, if these new varieties do not gain a foothold here in the United States and change our course,” he said, referring to the coronavirus strains originally found in Britain and South Africa that are thought to be more transmissible.
Researchers in Ohio said Wednesday that they have discovered two new varieties that are likely native to the United States
Last week, Gottlieb warned Americans that it is unlikely to happen in 2021 to return to pre-pandemic life. Eg. He told CNBC that public venues may still require people to have their temperature taken before entry.
“I just think things are going to be different, just like they are different when you go through an airport now after 9/11,” he said last week. “I do not think that masks will be mandatory next autumn and winter if we can increase the vaccination rate and if these new varieties disappear or do not become widespread. But I think many people will wear masks, and that is OK. “
Publication: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and member of the boards of Pfizer, startup of genetic testing Tempus and biotech company Illumina. He also serves as co-chairman of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean’s “Healthy Sail Panel”.