UPDATED 3:47 PM PT – Sunday, January 17, 2021
Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned in an interview Sunday that the new COVID-19 variant discovered in the United Kingdom will likely be the dominant strain in America within a few weeks.
Gottlieb said the number of infections from the new strain will likely double each week.
What can we do? We’re in a race against time to get as much protective immunity into population as backstop against continued spread. The vaccine is our only tool. We also need to become more vigilant about masking. Quality of mask matters more now. N95 best, or double masking.
— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) January 17, 2021
The new variant currently makes up about .5 percent of infections across the U.S.
Gottlieb explained a possible silver lining is that, because many people have already been infected with COVID-19, both herd immunity and the numerous vaccines will help soften the impacts.
“The only backstop against this new variant is that we will have a lot of infection by then, so there will be a lot of immunity in the population,” Gottlieb said. “But this really changes the equation.”
Whereas infections were expected to plummet in the spring thanks to the vaccines, Gottlieb said they are now likely to stay consistently high until most people get vaccinated.