Gottlieb: Breakthrough infections more common than people realize

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said there are more breakthrough COVID-19 cases in the United States than people realize and encouraged people to get their boosters as soon as possible, CNBC reported.

“At this point I think we need to accept that there’s a lot of breakthrough infections happening, particularly people who are out a significant portion of time from their original vaccination,” Gottlieb said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

“There’s probably more infection happening among the vaccinated population, more spread happening in that population, the unboosted portion of that population, than what we’re picking up because we’re just not systematically tracking this,” he added.

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Gottlieb, a Pfizer board member, added that breakthrough infections occur more frequently in individuals who are almost a year out since they were fully immunized.

Although the effectiveness of Covid vaccines diminishes over time, he said that boosters offer an “almost immediate” effect of restoring the antibody protection to their original levels.

Gottlieb also recommended that adults get their booster before the Thanksgiving holidays to have “have substantially more protection.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week cleared all adults who are at least six months past their last Pfizer or Moderna for a booster dose, specifically recommending a booster for anyone over the age of 50.

As COVID-19 cases are rising across the U.S. and the world, authorities have focused their efforts on avoiding another winter surge. 

Gottlieb said on Sunday that he eventually expects the CDC to consider Americans “fully vaccinated” only when they receive a booster shot, but did not expect that change to happen this year.