Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Author of Uncontrolled Spread; Former FDA Commissioner; Board Member, Pfizer and Illumina
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former FDA commissioner, Pfizer and Illumina board member, and author of Uncontrolled Spread, discusses the threat of the Omicron variant, lessons learned from the collective response to the pandemic, and prescriptions for how the country can better prepare for the next outbreak.
On the threat posed by the Omicron variant: "The fear is even if this causes only a small percentage of people to have a bad outcome, and it’s less virulent overall and people who’ve been exposed to Delta or vaccinated are reasonably well-protected, a small percentage of a big number is still a very big number. And if this is highly contagious and moves through the population much more easily, you’re going to see bad outcomes. You’re going to see the healthcare systems pressed, because even if some small percentage of people end up being hospitalized, if the attack rate is very high, it ends up being a high number."
On the risk of switching to an Omicron-specific vaccine: "It would have to be that the vaccine doesn’t work at all or works just marginally for the entire population to be eligible and us to mass produce and switch over all the production to an Omicron vaccine, at least in my estimation. Because what we’ve seen in the past, and again the data’s very limited, is that when you design a vaccine to a specific variant, it might work very well against that variant, but not so well against everything else."
This episode was recorded on December 6, 2021.