Dr. Scott Gottlieb explained why he is optimistic about Merck Covid antiviral pills after the drugmaker asked the FDA on Monday to authorize its pill to treat people with mild to moderate Covid symptoms.
“The main data from this Merck study was probably the best therapeutic effect we’ve seen from an oral antiviral drug on any respiratory pathogen, so this could make a real difference,” said the former Trump administration chief of the FDA.
If the agency approves the drug, it will be the first pill to be proven effective against Covid-19, and Americans could get it by the end of the year.
Gottlieb told CNBC News with Shepard Smith. The Merck tablet is part of “an overall, significant improvement in our therapeutic tools against this virus, not only with vaccines and therapies, but with more readily available diagnostic tests.”
Host Shepard Smith also asked Gottlieb about camouflage rules across the country. Gottlieb told Smith that he believed decisions would be made at the local level, and noted the varying prevalence of delta in the United States.
“We saw a sharp decline in the south, where the delta is mostly taking its course, so cases are dropping very sharply in densely populated states such as Texas and Florida, but you are seeing quite dense epidemics in the Midwest and lowland states, and we are still I still don’t know how things will go in the northeast and northern states, ”Gottlieb said.
He predicted that the Covid-19 delta wave could hit northern U.S. states despite higher vaccination rates and higher levels of previous infections.
“I still think there is a delta wave that will sweep through the northern states as well as the northeast, it will not be as dense as what you saw in the south, but we still probably expect more spread , “Gottlieb said.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a member of CNBC and a board member of Pfizer, genetic testing startup Tempus, medical technology company Aetion Inc. and the biotech company Illumina. He is also co-chairman of the Healthy Sail Group of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean.