Gottlieb warns of the possibility of new outbreaks fueled by the New York variant of the virus


Washington – Scott Gottlieb, former chief of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), warned that a worrisome coronavirus variant It could be fueling new outbreaks in New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the early days of the pandemic.

“You’re seeing a lot of infections popping up in New York City’s pockets. What we don’t understand with 1,526 is whether or not people are getting reinfected and whether people who could have been vaccinated are now getting infected with,” Gottlieb said Sunday on “Face the Nation,” referring to B.1.526, the scientific name for the variant first detected in New York.

Gottlieb said variant B.1.526 is concerning because it carries a mutation found in another variant first detected in South Africa, B.1.351, that could allow it to re-infect those who have previously contracted COVID-19 or who have since been vaccinated against it. virus.

“The question is whether 1,526 is responsible for some of the increases that we are seeing in New York right now and if this is the beginning of a new outbreak within the city,” Gottlieb said.

In New York, Gottlieb said that virus variants are known to account for 50% of new infections, with B.1.526 being the most prevalent strain. He urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to step in and help city health officials sequence virus samples to better understand how the variant is spreading.

“We are just not very good at this time at collecting cases and relating them to clinical experience. So we need to intervene much more aggressively and start sequencing cases, especially people who report that they were previously vaccinated or already they had been vaccinated. COVID, “said the former FDA commissioner.

Gottlieb said the CDC should encourage doctors to come forward and report potential cases from patients who had previously had COVID-19 newly infected.

“We don’t know what is happening. But anecdotally, some doctors are reporting that now and that could explain why you are seeing an increase in cases,” he said. “It could just be that, you know, 1.526 and B.1.1.7 are becoming more prevalent and that’s responsible in and of itself. But you want to make sure it’s not reinfecting people.”

According to John Hopkins University, the test positivity rate in New York State stands at 3.3% over the past month, although Gottlieb noted that testing has slowed and positivity rates are reaching 15%. in certain parts of New York City. The state has had an average of 6,337 new infections daily in the past week.

New York State has administered more than 7.4 million doses of coronavirus vaccines. About 2.4 million people have been fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins, representing about 12.6% of the state’s population.

Nationwide, Gottlieb said the growing number of vaccines, as well as immunity among those who have had COVID-19, should be enough to prevent a “fourth wave” of infections.

“I think the fact that we have so much previous infection, 120 million Americans have been infected with this virus, the fact that now we have been vaccinated, we have received an injection in at least 70 million Americans, even if the fact is counted. Since maybe around 30% of previously vaccinated people had COVID, we are talking about some form of protective immunity in about 55% of the population, “Gottlieb said. “So there’s enough support here that I don’t think you’re going to see a fourth wave.”

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