People wearing two protective masks walk the Embarcadero in San Francisco, California, United States on Thursday, February 11, 2021.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will need to update their coronavirus policies faster if the pandemic situation improves.
A day earlier, the US health agency issued new, relaxed guidelines on how fully vaccinated people should wear masks outdoors.
“The guidelines issued by CDC are a step in the right direction, in my opinion, but relatively confusing,” Gottlieb, a former commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC’s Squawk Box. “It is not very clear what they prescribe. I think we need simpler rules if we want to prescribe something about society.”
People who have been fully vaccinated – two weeks after their final dose – can safely exercise and go to small outdoor gatherings without wearing a face mask, according to the new CDC guidance. However, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated individuals continue to wear masks when attending a crowded outdoor event, such as an outdoor event. B. a parade, a sports game or a concert.
The CDC also said that if those other participants are fully vaccinated, it is safe for unvaccinated Americans to forego wearing a mask while attending a small outdoor gathering with friends and family.
The CDC needs to better define what it wants to achieve at this stage of the pandemic when national infection rates are falling and more than 54% of adults in the US have received at least one dose of vaccine, said Gottlieb, who sits on the board of directors at Covid vaccine maker Pfizer.
“I think the public health goal should be to try to protect vulnerable populations in gathering environments. So keep focusing on nursing homes, day care centers where young children live, and trying to prevent major outbreaks and overarching events to prevent.” he said.
According to CDC data, around 68% of US citizens age 65 and over have been fully vaccinated, while around 82% of the most at-risk populations have received at least one dose.
“We won’t be able to prevent a single rollout where a single person spreads a virus to a single person, but against the backdrop of the decline [coronavirus] Prevalence, rising vaccination rates and more vulnerable Americans protected by vaccinations, we have to lean forward, “said Gottlieb, who headed the FDA in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019.
The 7-day average of new coronavirus cases per day in the US is around 53,800, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data. That is 17% less than a week ago.
The US has an average of 676 new Covid deaths per day based on a seven day moving average. This is evident from CNBC’s analysis of the Hopkins data. This corresponds to a decrease of 6% compared to a week ago.
Gottlieb, who called for an end to outdoor mask requirements earlier this week, said he was concerned about the impact of the CDC, which continues to be overly cautious with its guidelines.
“I think the risk to CDC as an institution – it’s a hugely important institution – is that it will lose its relevance and people will stop listening,” he said, warning those in the US to the coronavirus guidelines establish.
“The challenge is that if we do not lift these restrictions with the same speed and efficiency that we have placed on them, we will lose credibility as public health officials to reintroduce them in the future because more of the rest of the world People will worry about it are a one-way street, “he said.
The CDC did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC employee and a member of the boards of directors of Pfizer, genetic testing startup Tempus, health technology company Aetion Inc., and biotech company Illumina. He is also co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean.