The former head of the Food and Drug Administration said new COVID-19 variants may slightly drive up the number of cases, but they’re unlikely to trigger a new wave.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb said vaccines and antibodies from previous infections are still likely to provide some protection against new variants, such as the UK’s highly contagious strain.
“There’s probably some crossover in the immunity you get from [the UK variant] and immunity against those other strains. That’s going to probably cause infections to tick back up,” Gottlieb told CBS anchor Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation.”
“I don’t think we’re going to see another surge of infection this spring, but we might see a plateauing before we see continued declines again.”
Gottlieb said he expects the number of people dying from the virus will also “decline quite dramatically” as more vulnerable people receive COVID-19 vaccines.
“Just looking at nursing homes alone. If you look at overall deaths, they are declining,” Gottlieb said.
“But of the deaths that are occurring, 13% right now are occurring in nursing homes. That’s down from 40%. And so that’s a real significant indication that the overall vulnerability of the most vulnerable people, those who are succumbing to COVID, is starting to decline quite dramatically as we get more of them vaccinated.”
Gottlieb estimated that by the end of the week, nearly 25% of adults will be vaccinated.
“So we’re reducing the overall vulnerability of the population,” he said.