Former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned that the coronavirus pandemic is “about to explode” across the United States as the country confirmed more than 10 million coronavirus cases on Monday, a bleak milestone just 10 days after reaching the 9 million mark amid a record surge in daily infections.
On Sunday, the country added approximately 105,000 cases, and Johns Hopkins reported that it’s the fifth day in a row where Covid cases topped 100,000.
“The challenge is this virus is distributed everywhere across the country right now,” Gottlieb said. “We’re going to have a really significant epidemic wave across the entire nation and, unfortunately, it’s going to cause a lot of death and disease before we’re able to have this therapeutic counterattack, not just with the vaccine, but also with these therapeutic antibodies.”
Amid the record case surges, two groundbreaking developments in the race for a vaccine were announced. The Food and Drug administration authorized emergency use of Eli Lilly’s experimental antibody treatment for Covid-19, and drug-maker Pfizer announced early data that showed its experimental vaccine is more than 90% effective in preventing the coronavirus. Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC that there could be 50 million doses by the end of the year.
“It is a great day for science, it is a great day for humanity,” said Bourla. “When you realize that your vaccine has a 90% effectiveness, that’s overwhelming.”
In an interview on “The News with Shepard Smith” on Monday evening, Gottlieb explained that the determination for who’s going to get the vaccine first will be for whom the risk-benefit makes the most sense.
“You want to target more of the people who are going to get the benefit of the vaccine, and that’s going to be older individuals, probably people in nursing homes or long-term assisted living facilities,” said Gottlieb. “They’re not just at high risk of contracting the virus, but also at a high risk of a bad outcome from it.”
In a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, only 20% of people responded that they would take a vaccine as soon as they could, but Dr. Gottlieb told host Shepard Smith that he doesn’t think that feeling would last. He explained that there will be a lot more data once the vaccine is ready for the broad population, which would not be until the second or third quarter of next year.
“The vaccine that achieves that level of effectiveness, when we’re talking about 90% or greater effectiveness of a vaccine, that really is going to afford you a degree of protection that can get you to a point where we can look towards getting back to a semblance of normal life maybe later next year, once we’re able to roll this out to a broader population,” Gottlieb said.