Dr. Scott Gottlieb explained on Monday how he is trying to keep his three young daughters safe from the coronavirus while also allowing them to visit friends before their age groups can get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Gottlieb detailed his approach to “Squawk Box,” after co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin asked the former FDA chief what he thought about indoor playdates for children if their parents were fully vaccinated.
“I am reintroducing activities with my children, but I do it, I hope, in a prudent way where I still keep the social network somewhat defined. I am being aware of how many people are interacting and who they are interacting with,” said Gottlieb, who led the Administration of Food and Drug Administration in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019. You are now on the board of Pfizer, which makes one of three Covid vaccines approved for emergency use in the US.
“For example, a lot of her play dates have been with kids who are in her class,” Gottlieb said. “Why? Because that’s their social group. They are already exposed to that social group and therefore we try to keep interactions within that defined group.”
None of the vaccines used in the US have yet been licensed for young children.
Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine and Moderna’s two-dose vaccine received limited authorization for people 18 years of age and older. Rather, the FDA allowed Pfizer’s two-shot vaccine to be given to people 16 years of age and older.
All three drug manufacturers are testing the vaccine in children, although clinical trials are in various stages and examine different age groups.
Pfizer said Wednesday that its vaccine was 100% effective in teens ages 12 to 15, and Gottlieb told CNBC that he hopes the FDA will clear it for emergency use for that cohort of children by the fall when school resumes.
Experts say vaccinating children is necessary for the United States to achieve so-called herd immunity, which is the point at which enough people in a population have antibodies to fight the virus from vaccines or previous infections and thereby reduce drastically its spread.
“Children are clearly less vulnerable to infection, but less vulnerable does not mean they are not vulnerable and we see some children getting sick from the coronavirus,” Gottlieb said.
Right now, as more adults get vaccinated and feel comfortable resuming activities they avoided earlier in the pandemic, such as traveling, dining indoors, and seeing friends and family, some wonder how they should view the risk to their children. sons.
“Vaccinating parents reduces the risk of children getting the infection … because many of the infections we see in contact tracing are actually children who get infected from their parents, not children who get infected at school. “, Gottlieb said. “If you interact with families where adults have been vaccinated, children are less likely to have the infection.”
However, Gottlieb stressed that even Americans who have been vaccinated must remain aware that the pandemic, which has been going on for more than a year, is not over yet. For example, he said, a person who received a Covid injection must still wear a mask around an at-risk person who has not been vaccinated.
“People who are vaccinated may feel that they are much less likely to get seriously ill,” he said. “They are less likely to get the infection and less likely to pass on the evidence … But if you are around vulnerable people, there is still the possibility, even if you are vaccinated, that you could be asymptotic and spread the virus and transmit the virus to that vulnerable person. “
– CNBC Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this report.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing startup Tempus, healthcare technology company Aetion Inc., and biotech company Illumina. He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Participations‘ and Royal Caribbean“Healthy candle panel”.