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Omicron May Extend Pandemic, But There Is Still A “Transition Year”

Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC that the omicron option “extends the time frame” for when Covid goes from a health emergency to something the world is learning to live with.

“I still think this will be a transitional year,” Gottlieb said Tuesday night in The News With Shepard Smith. We will probably “move from a pandemic to a more endemic phase,” but later.

On November 5, the former FDA chief and current Pfizer board member told CNBC that the Covid pandemic phase could end in the US in early January.

Recent studies from South Africa have shown that omicron significantly reduces antibody protection in people with the Pfizer / BioNTech Covid vaccine.

However, Pfizer said Wednesday morning that its own research showed that a third injection of its Covid vaccine neutralized the omicron.

Before the news, Gottlieb said that the best way to get the shot and booster vaccination is “hopefully three doses of the vaccine will be quite protective” as the booster “acts like an infection”.

Gottlieb told Shepard Smith that he made this prediction when delta was supposed to be the option of most concern. However, the doctor said the omicron represents a “divergent evolution” of Covid and could warn of its trajectory in the US and around the world “even after the population has developed high immunity to infection.”

This may be what is happening in South Africa right now, said Gottlieb, who headed the FDA under former President Donald Trump.

“The reason you are seeing less severe illness and fewer hospitalizations compared to cases is because many people in South Africa have had a delta infection,” he said. “Therefore, when they are reinfected with this variant, it is possible that their delta immunity does not protect against infection, but protects them from symptomatic diseases and severe consequences.”

Pfizer CEO Albert Burla said on Tuesday that omicron appears to be softer, but it could also spread faster, leaving more room for further development of variants.

The South African Medical Research Council said Saturday that most hospitalized patients with the new option do not require supplemental oxygen. Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the White House, said the preliminary findings were “a little encouraging.”

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC member and board member of Pfizer, genetic testing startup Tempus, healthcare technology company Aetion, and biotech company. Illumina… He is also co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings‘ and Royal Caribbean“Healthy sail”.


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