Washington – Former Commissioner for Food and Drug Administration Dr. Scott Gottlieb predicted on Sunday that the new variant of the coronavirus found in the United Kingdom will be the dominant strain in the United States in a few weeks.
In an interview with Face the Nation, Gottlieb said the new option accounted for approximately 0.5% of all infections nationwide, but said it would likely double every week.
“This is the experience of other countries, and this is the experience we have seen so far in the United States,”
Known as B.1.1.7, the new strain was discovered in the UK in December and has since spread to more than 30 countries and at least 10 countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a report on Friday that the option found in the UK, which is considered more transmissible, would be the dominant strain by March. Another variant, known as B.1.351, also appears in South Africa.
While B.1.351 has not yet been found in the United States, Gottlieb said that “the most important thing is that these strains are already here.”
“It really changes the equation, and I think what we’re looking at is a relentless blow from this virus to spring, while infections would really start to decrease in the spring,” he said. “We would have a quiet spring. We could have consistently high levels of infection in the spring until we finally got enough people vaccinated.”
There are more than 23.7 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, and the death toll is nearly 400,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. But Gottlieb echoed a prediction by Dr. Rochelle Valensky, elected by President Joe Biden to lead the CDC, that the nation was likely to see 500,000 coronavirus deaths by mid-February.
“I think it’s tragic, that’s right. What we’re likely to see is that the infection is starting to decrease. I think we’re seeing it right now. We’re seeing a short-term peak in terms of the number of new daily cases,” he said. “Now, unfortunately, deaths and hospitalizations will continue to rise over the next two or three weeks because they are lagging behind. But we will see the decline continue for probably about four weeks, maybe five weeks, until this new option starts to take off. accepts over. “
Gottlieb said the new strains and the growing number of victims underscore the need to accelerate the pace of coronavirus vaccines.
Biden’s incoming administration has set a target of 100 million vaccinations in Mr Biden’s first 100 days, and Gottlieb said the goal is achievable.
“I think the plan that the new administration has put forward makes a lot of sense,” he said. “It’s kind of like ‘everything on top,’ what we talked about, trying to push this through different channels like big box stores, like pharmacies, trying to create more federal charter sites along with the states.”
According to the CDC, more than 31.1 million doses of coronavirus vaccine have been distributed and more than 12.2 million have been given.