Gottlieb says the new coronavirus strain appears to be more contagious in Europe

Washington – Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), warned on Sunday that a new strain of the coronavirus discovered in Europe, which has led to severe restrictions in parts of the UK, appears to be more contagious than existing variants, but likely is not more deadly.

“There’s a new variant, and the question is whether it has become the predominant strain in London because of what is known as the founder effect – it just arrived in London and has seen some early super-spreading events – or whether it is The result of what we call selective pressure is chosen because it has properties that make it more likely to spread, “Gottlieb said in an interview on Face the Nation.” “Increasingly it seems to be the latter. It seems that this new strain is more contagious.”

But Gottlieb said “it’s probably no more deadly”, despite noting that public health officials “don’t fully understand the contours” yet.

“It doesn’t seem more virulent or dangerous than COVID,” he said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed new, tougher restrictions in London and areas of the south of England amid the rapid rise in coronavirus infections, which appears to be being driven by a new strain of coronavirus that is more than 70% more transmissible than existing variants. The UK has alerted the World Health Organization to the new strain and several European countries have suspended flights from the UK as a result.

General surgeon Dr. Jerome Adams reiterated Gottlieb’s assessment of the new tribe, telling Face the Nation early Sunday that officials “have no evidence that this will affect our ability to continue vaccinating people, or that it is more dangerous or deadly than the tribes currently in existence.” from there and we know that. “

Gottlieb said the next question is whether people who have already had COVID-19 can be infected with the new variant and whether the new strain rules out vaccines.

“The answer is probably not,” he said. “This virus mutates like all viruses. Influenza mutates the most. And what viruses do is change their surface proteins. And when they do, the antibodies we developed against those surface proteins stop working “Now the flu mutates very quickly, changes its surface proteins very quickly. So we have to keep getting a new flu shot. Some viruses like measles don’t change their surface proteins. And that’s how the measles shot we got 20 years ago works “Still. Coronavirus seems to be in the middle somewhere. It’s going to mutate and alter its surface proteins, but probably slowly enough that we can develop new vaccines.”

According to the FDA’s Approval of the Pfizer vaccine For the December 11 emergency, health care workers and high-level elected officials, including members of Congress, received their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine last week. Vice President Mike Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence, and Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams were vaccinated on live television Friday, and President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will receive her first shots on Monday.

The FDA issued an emergency permit for a second coronavirus vaccine and supplies developed by Moderna on Friday began to roll out Sunday.

While vaccine approval marks a new, welcome phase in the coronavirus pandemic, cases in the U.S. continue to rise and the death toll continues to rise. There have been more than 17.6 million infections and more than 316,000 deaths from COVID-19, and Gottlieb predicted the number of infections will peak in the first week of January.

“The health system will continue to see stress well beyond the peak of infections as the time to hospitalization and time to death from COVID delays,” he said. “After these infections peak, deaths will continue to rise for three weeks.”

Gottlieb said the nation was “right at the height of this pandemic” and that it was critical that the doses of the vaccines be delivered as soon as possible.

“A vaccine given next week is likely to have a bigger public health impact than a vaccine given in five weeks,” he said. “So we should lean forward and try to get as much vaccine out as possible.”