Gottlieb not expecting travel from outside US to 'feed a lot of additional infections'

Gottlieb not expecting travel from outside US to 'feed a lot of additional infections'
© Stefani Reynolds

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Sunday said he is not expecting travel from outside the country to “feed a lot of additional infections,” one day before the U.S. is set to lift border restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers.

Border restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers coming into the U.S. will be lifted on Monday, after the White House announced last month that it was implementing a new travel policy.

The plan, which applies to both international air and land travel, is set to take effect on Monday.

Asked if the resumption of international travel will feed into the delta variant wave of COVID-19 infections the U.S. is experiencing, Gottlieb told host Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he does not think the new policy will have a significant effect on cases in the U.S. because of the vaccine requirement and individuals not wanting to be trapped in a foreign country with the virus.

“I don't think the travel coming in from outside the U.S. is gonna feed additional infections or a lot of additional infections,” Gottlieb said.

“A lot of people who are coming into the U.S. first of all, they have to show that they've been vaccinated, a lot of them will make sure that they're not carrying the infection with them, they're not gonna want to get caught in a foreign country with the infection. So I suspect a lot of people are going to be cautious about coming into the U.S. with the infection,” he added.

He said there is not much the U.S. is able to do at this point to "interrupt" the delta wave, adding that it is "going to play out through the country."

"What's happening is that this delta infection is moving from less populated areas where it had engulfed those regions with infection, to more populated areas like Michigan like Minnesota like Wisconsin, so it's showing an overall stall in the decline nationally. This has to play out," Gottlieb said.

He added that the virus is now "gonna capture most people who remain unvaccinated at this point."

"We've done a phenomenal job vaccinating the adult population. Almost 81 percent of adults over the age of 18 have had at least one dose of vaccine. But for those who aren't getting vaccinated, they're going to get infected with this delta variant and that's going to ultimately be the end game," Gottlieb said.

While the U.S. is opening up travel to vaccinated international visitors on Monday, restrictions will remain in place for individuals traveling by land who have not yet been inoculated. Those travelers who have nonessential reasons for moving are barred from entering the U.S. until at least January.