Story at a glance

  • The highly transmissible coronavirus variant first discovered in India is spiking in American states with lower vaccination rates, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday.
  • Gottlieb told CBS’s "Face The Nation" that states, including Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Missouri, are seeing a surge in new cases, which appears to correspond with vaccination levels.
  • “It’s based entirely on how much population-wide immunity you have, based on vaccination,” Gottlieb said.

The highly transmissible coronavirus variant first discovered in India is spiking in American states with lower vaccination rates, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday. 

Gottlieb told CBS’s "Face The Nation" that several states, including Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Missouri, are seeing a surge in new cases that appears to correspond with vaccination levels. 

“That’s based entirely on how much population-wide immunity you have, based on vaccination,” Gottlieb said. 

The former FDA head said last week that the delta variant accounts for roughly ten percent of all new COVID-19 cases in the U.S., adding that the number is “doubling every two-weeks.” 

“So it's probably going to become the dominant strain here in the United States,” Gottlieb added. “That doesn't mean that we're going to see a sharp uptick in infections, but it does mean that this is going to take over.”


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A recent Washington Post analysis of CDC data shows a correlation between a state’s vaccination levels and new cases. Only four states with more vaccinations than the national average were seeing increasing case rates — Colorado, Maine, Oregon and Washington — while more vaccines seemed to translate into fewer cases in 17 states.

The analysis revealed an additional 17 states where more cases corresponded with vaccine rates below the national average — 10 from a combination of Southern and rural Western states, including Alabama and Louisiana in the South and Montana and Wyoming out West.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week designated the delta strain a “variant of concern.” The health agency maintains that the strain could spread more easily from person-to-person and potentially reduce a vaccine’s efficacy. 


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Gottlieb said Sunday that the delta variant is “40-60 percent more infective” than the strain first discovered in the U.K. 

“It doesn’t necessarily appear more pathogenic, meaning more dangerous, but it’s infecting people more easily and it’s starting to become prevalent in the U.K. in communities that are unvaccinated.”

The delta variant has spread to at least 80 countries


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Published on Jun 21, 2021