Dr. Scott Gottlieb told Acesparks on Monday that the very fast-moving delta Covid variant, first discovered in India, could pose a challenge for U.S. schools this fall as vaccination rates among children fall.
“I think the truth is that kids are becoming a vector of these new options,” the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration told Squawk Box.
It’s only been more than a month since the FDA cleared Pfizer of the Covid vaccine for use in children ages 12 to 15. Moderna has also asked the two-axis regime to extend the FDA’s right to use in emergencies to cover teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17. Pfizer’s EU initially targeted people aged 16 and over, while Moderna is for people aged 18 and older.
“Old assumptions about children and children [not] the spread of the disease was based on the original type of the virus, ”he added. With these new, contagious options, we can be sure that children and schools are becoming more and more a hub. ”
There are trials in which covid vaccines are being tested in young populations. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech expect to have data for children ages 5 to 11 in the coming months.
Gottlieb pointed to data from a coronavirus case in the UK, where the Covid delta is more common than in the US, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson delayed the opening of the nation. A positive test rate for people under the age of 24 in the UK significantly higher The cohort is more protected from the vaccine than people over the age of 65, Gottlieb said.
“There are some promising signs, but it’s an epidemic among schools, among unvaccinated young people. Vaccinated older people don’t spread it, and in general, they don’t get sick,” Gottlieb said. .
“The situation is that mortality is declining, which is not necessary because it is a less dangerous option. We don’t believe in that,” he added. “Incident mortality rates have dropped significantly because people who are exposed to the virus are generally vaccinated.”
Gottlieb points out that the evidence gathered around the dangers of the delta option to unvaccinated people shows that the FDA cannot drastically change the way Covid shots are cleaned for children. That was already a priority, and will remain so, said Gottlieb, who headed the FDA from 2017 to 2019 in the Trump administration.
However, he said, health campaigns to vaccinate children may be more focused because of the delta option once they are eligible.
“I think it’s especially moving [to get] vaccination of adolescents is important because schools become centers of transmission and a transmissible strain that infects more children, and even if it’s not dangerous, you’ll see worse results, ”Gottlieb said.
“It’s just from math that if more kids are infected, even if the level of bad outcomes in children is very low, more kids will get bad results because most of them are infected,” he said.
Gottlieb hopes there will be some rules to limit the spread of Covid in schools this fall. “Whether it’s masks or distant and sensible practices in the school house, I think smart schools start the school year with some kind of mitigation until they understand how it’s going to go.”
The reopening of schools for private education has been controversial during the pandemic. Numerous studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on their website when appropriate mitigation strategies are implemented, “transmission in a school setting is usually below or at least similar to the level of public delivery.”
Background: Scott Gottlieb is a member of Acesparks and a member of the Pfizer boards, Tempus genetic testing, health technology company Aetion and Illumina biotechnology company. It also serves as a co-founder of Norway’s Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean’s Healthy Sail Panel.