Gottlieb: Latest variant not contagious enough to change virus 'trajectory' in US

Gottlieb: Latest variant not contagious enough to change virus 'trajectory' in US
© Greg Nash

Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday that the latest delta variant is not contagious enough to change the COVID-19 pandemic’s “trajectory” in the United States.

“I don't think this is enough to really change the trajectory of the direction we're heading in. We're much closer to the end of this delta wave than we are to the beginning. The South looks very good right now. In the Midwest, where there's been a very dense epidemic, we see cases starting to decline,” Gottlieb said when asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” if he is concerned about the new variant.

“There was a pickup in cases in the Great Lakes region, in parts of New England, so that's concerning. This delta wave still has to course its way through parts of the country, but I think as we get to Thanksgiving, maybe shortly thereafter, we're going to be on the downswing” across the country, Gottlieb added.

A mutation of the delta variant, referred to as the delta plus strain, has started to emerge within the last few months in the United Kingdom. Most of the cases of the variant found in the U.S. have been reported in California and have largely been reported at lower rates than the original delta strain. 

The former FDA commissioner said on Sunday that he believes the COVID-19 vaccine should be protective against the new variant and it is unlikely that it would make inroads globally the same way the initial delta strain did.

“I think that this is something that's going to probably push us in a direction of eventually reformulating our vaccines,” Gottlieb noted.