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Monday, January 24, 2022

Gottlieb Predicts No ‘True Fourth Wave’ For U.S. Here’s What Other Experts Are Saying.

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Former FDA head Scott Gottlieb said Sunday he doesn’t believe there will be a “true fourth wave” resurgence of Covid-19 in the U.S. due to the accelerating vaccine rollout—but other health experts are warning that preventing another serious outbreak will be a close call. 

Key Facts

Gottlieb, who was commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration from 2017 to 2019, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning that he isn’t predicting a major resurgence because of the “level of immunity we have in the population.”

“I think that there’s enough immunity in the population that you’re not going to see a true fourth wave of infection,” said Gottlieb, describing a recent rise in new cases as “pockets of infections around the country” he doesn’t believe will morph into the threats the U.S. has seen before.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious diseases official, has similarly predicted that the U.S. won’t see a wave of infections as severe as the previous three, but warned during a Friday interview with NPR’s “Morning Edition” that it will be a race “between the potential for a surge and our ability to vaccinate as many people as we possibly can.”

“Hopefully, if you want to make this a metaphorical race, the vaccine is going to win this one,” said Fauci, who is also the Biden administration’s chief medical advisor, emphasizing that “every day that goes by, we get closer and closer to getting an advantage.”

Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, meanwhile, has voiced more concern, issuing a warning earlier this week that she’s becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility of a fourth wave. 

“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared,” Walensky said during a press conference last Monday, describing a “recurring sense” of “impending doom.” 

Crucial Quote 

“I do think it’s important that Dr. Fauci and the CDC director urge caution. We should continue to be cautious,” Gottlieb said when asked about whether Americans are choosing to ignore health messaging. “We don’t want to be in a position where we extend the epidemic because we weren’t prudent about the steps we’re taking right now. That said, people are sensing there is less risk overall … and so they’re willing to start engaging in the things they put off for a full year.” 

Key Background 

Despite an accelerating vaccine rollout that’s reached over 100 million Americans to date, top health officials have been warning states and the American public to hold off on relaxing their Covid-19 safety protocols following an uptick in new infections. The number of new coronavirus cases has jumped nearly 20% over the past two weeks, averaging  roughly 63,000 infections a day, with Michigan and New York seeing the biggest spikes. Hospitalizations have remained steady during this period, while deaths have decreased 22% to an average of 847 per day, the lowest number since November. Scientists also point to the increasing prevalence of more contagious Covid-19 variants like the U.K., Brazilian and South African variants which are making their way across the U.S. as a point of concern. “We don’t know if people are getting re-infected by some of these new variants,” Gottlieb said. “There’s a lot we don’t understand about this virus right now.” 

Chief Critic 

Dr. Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist who served on President Biden’s Covis-19 transition advisory board, warned during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” that the U.S. is “almost in a new pandemic” because of the spread of the U.K. variant, B. 1. 1. 7. Osterholm said that while vaccines have so far proven effective against this variant, he is concerned by its spread in children: “They are now, as kids, getting infected at the same rate as adults do. They’re very effective at transmitting the virus.” 

Further Reading 

“CDC Chief Warns Of ‘Impending Doom’ As Covid-19 Cases, Hospitalizations And Deaths All Rise” (Forbes)

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