Ex-FDA commissioner predicts ‘pandemic phase’ of Covid will end in coming months

Vaccines for children and antiviral pills will play key roll in reducing cases, says Dr Scott Gottlieb

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Thursday 07 October 2021 00:39 BST
Ex-FDA commissioner predicts ‘pandemic phase’ of Covid will end in coming months

The former Food and Drug Administration commissioner says he believes that the “pandemic phase” of coronavirus could be over within months.

Dr Scott Gottlieb said that it would be brought about by vaccines being made available to children and the clearance of Merck’s antiviral pill.

He also told CNBC that the situation would be helped by the fact that Covid’s delta variant should have “moved through the country” by the end of November.

“On the back end of that, we’re going to have, hopefully, a vaccine available for children and, at some point before the end of the year, we probably will have the orally available drug from Merck if things go well and that undergoes a favorable review,” said Mr Gottlieb, who now serves on the board of Covid vaccine maker Pfizer.

“I think those two things are going to be the bookend on the pandemic phase of this virus and we’re going to be entering the more endemic phase, when this becomes an omnipresent risk but don’t represent the extreme risk that it represents right now.”

An FDA advisory panel will meet on 26 October to discuss if Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine should be expanded to youngsters aged 5 to 11.

The FDA has already cleared the jab for individuals aged 12 and above, and given full approval for anyone over 16.

Last week American pharmaceutical company Merck announced that its antiviral pill reduced the risk of hospitalisation or death by 50 per cent in trial participants who had mild to moderate cases of Covid-19.

Merck says it will file for emergency use authorization with the FDA “as soon as possible”.

The treatment, which was developed with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, works by introducing genetic errors into the virus and preventing it from being able to replicate itself.

Dr Gottlieb led the FDA from 2017 to 2019 during the Trump administration.

The Centers for Disease Control says that currently 76 per cent of eligible Americans have received at least one vaccine shot, and nearly 66 per cent are fully vaccinated.

There have been more than 44m Covid-19 cases in the US during the pandemic, and more than 707,000 deaths.

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