Dr. Scott Gottlieb believes people who were previously infected with the coronavirus would continue to benefit from Covid vaccines.
In the interview on Tuesday at CNBC’s Squawk Box, the former Food and Drug Administration commissioner admitted that some people might think that their antibodies, made by the disease, offer adequate protection against future infection or disease and therefore do without the Covid vaccination.
The reason for still getting the vaccine is “twofold,” claimed Gottlieb, who sits on the board of directors at vaccine maker Pfizer.
“First, we believe the vaccine will offer more permanent and broader immunity so it will better protect you from the variants,” he said, alluding to the highly transmissible Delta variant that worries public health officials.
“Second, if you’ve been infected before, and even if you get a single dose of the vaccine – forget to get both doses of the vaccine, just a single dose of the vaccine – you get a very robust immune response,” said Gottlieb.
Pfizer’s vaccine requires two vaccinations for full immune protection, as does Moderna’s vaccine. Johnson & Johnson makes a single-dose vaccine. These are the only three emergency vaccines approved in the US
“It is, so to speak, the best of both worlds if you have previously been infected and vaccinated,” said Gottlieb, who headed the FDA from 2017 to 2019 in the Trump administration. “At least one dose gives you broad, very deep, very lasting immunity based on the data we’ve seen so far. So there are still many compelling reasons why you might want to get vaccinated, even if you’ve been infected before. “
More than 157 million people in the U.S., or 47.4% of the population, are fully vaccinated against Covid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 182.4 million people, or nearly 55% of the population, received at least one dose.
The pace of admission slowed after an aggressive push this spring to deliver the Covid shots to the Americans. In response, state and local officials – and companies too – launched various promotions to promote vaccination.
Yet some people still hesitate. According to the CDC, less than 30% of residents in about 1,000 counties in the US had been vaccinated by last week.
The increasing presence of the Delta variant in both the US and around the world increases the urgency of calls for more people to get vaccinated. The variant, discovered for the first time in India, has shown that the vaccines are slightly less effective, but still protect against serious diseases.
“We expect increased transmission in these communities when we can’t vaccinate more people,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Thursday, referring to the roughly 1,000 US states with low vaccination rates.
“Preliminary data for the past six months suggests 99.5% of deaths from Covid-19 in the states have occurred in unvaccinated people,” she added. “The suffering and loss we are experiencing now are almost entirely avoidable.”
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC employee and a member of the board of directors of Pfizer, genetic testing startup Tempus, health technology company Aetion Inc., and biotechnology company Illumina. He is also co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean.