Gottlieb says vaccines should provide "pretty big backstop" against new virus surge


Washington — Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Sunday that the increasing number of Americans who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 should provide a "pretty big backstop" against a renewed coronavirus surge.  

"We've now vaccinated 92 million Americans. It's about 28% of the public. About 50 million have been fully vaccinated, that's 15%," Gottlieb said on "Face the Nation." "So, I think that's a pretty big backstop against a true fourth surge."

His comments come as 30 states and the District of Columbia have seen a recent uptick in new infections after weeks of decline, worrying public health officials. Gottlieb said the Biden administration should begin focusing vaccination efforts on areas of the country experiencing outbreaks, noting that places like Massachusetts, Michigan and the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have all seen increases in cases.

"I think the Biden administration can allocate to parts of the country that look hot right now," stated Gottlieb. "But if we could just get two or three more weeks of around 3 million vaccines a day, that's going to be a pretty big backstop."

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27.6% of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 15% of the population has been fully vaccinated. In total, more than 140 million shots have been administered. 

At his first press conference last week, President Biden doubled his initial goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans within his first 100 days in office. Having reached that milestone in just 58 days, the president vowed to administer 200 million vaccinations before his 100th day in office on April 30.

"Today, I'm setting a second goal, and that is: We will, by my 100th day in office, have administered 200 million shots in people's arms," Mr. Biden said Thursday.

Gottlieb said the administration needs to get vaccine doses into community sites that have relationships with patients, like doctor's offices and pharmacies, to reach those who might otherwise be hesitant to seek out a vaccine.

"We should be looking at every single interaction that patients have with the medical system and trying to offer a vaccination at those points of care through a provider that patients know," Gottlieb said. "That's ultimately how we're going to get some people who are more hesitant about being vaccinated to take up the vaccine."