Gottlieb: 'Nobody knows' origins of six-foot social-distancing recommendation

Gottlieb: 'Nobody knows' origins of six-foot social-distancing recommendation
© getty: Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb

Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday that "nobody knows" the origins of the six-foot social-distancing recommendation.

During an appearance on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” Gottlieb told host Margaret Brennan that the recommendation was arbitrary, saying that the Biden administration asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to change its guidelines from six feet to three feet in an effort to re-open schools last spring. 

“Nobody knows where it came from. Most people assume that the six feet of distance, the recommendation for keeping six feet apart, comes out of some old studies related to flu, where droplets don't travel more than six feet,” Gottlieb told Brennan. 

Gottlieb also said that the CDC’s initial social-distancing recommendation was 10 feet.

“So the compromise was around six feet. Now imagine if that detail had leaked out. Everyone would have said, 'This is the White House politically interfering with the CDC's judgment.' The CDC said 10 feet, it should be 10 feet, but 10 feet was no more right than six feet and ultimately became three feet,” Gottlieb said.

“But when it became three feet, the basis for the CDC's decision to ultimately revise it from six to three feet was a study that they conducted the prior fall. So they changed it in the spring.”