Gottlieb says there is “no indication” Omicron is causing more serious illness


Washington – Dr Scott Gottlieb, former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said on Sunday that there was no indication that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus causes more serious illness, although it appears to be more transmissible than previous strains of the virus.

“There is no indication that it causes more serious illness. What we have seen in South Africa in particular is a decoupling between cases and hospitalizations,” Gottlieb said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

In South Africa, where the variant was first detected, hospitalizations are down 30% from cases and 80% from previous waves, Gottlieb said. He said higher levels of immunity, whether from vaccinations or past infections, could be the reason “it’s showing up as less serious disease.”

“Probably around 80% of Americans and 90% of South Africans have some level of immunity, either from a previous infection or from vaccination,” he said.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 43 states in the United States have reported at least one case of the Omicron variant.

Gottlieb said Americans are suffering from COVID-related fatigue and are tired of living reduced lives because of the virus. He predicted that Omicron “is going to make its way through the population, probably very quickly, when you look at what’s happened in South Africa and even what’s happening in the UK right now, where it is. evolves very quickly. But we face a tough four to six weeks ahead of us, like most of the population. “

He noted that it would be prudent for vulnerable people to take extra precautions before the holidays, including testing, mitigation and vaccinations.

Dr Francis Collins, outgoing director of the National Institutes of Health, stressed the importance of vaccinations and boosters to protect against the Omicron variant.

“What do we know about Omicron? We know it’s very contagious ”, Collins said “Face the Nation”. “You’ve seen what happened in South Africa initially, then in Europe and now in the United States. It’s doubling about every two to four days, and we’re going to see that number of cases increase quite rapidly over the course of the year. the next two months. weeks. “

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