The US travel ban from countries such as the United Kingdom, India and China makes “no sense” to block the spread of COVID-19 variants, said a former head of the Food and Drug Administration.
Scott Gottlieb, who served as FDA Commissioner from 2017 to 2019 and sits on the board of vaccine maker Pfizer, appeared on CBS News’ Face the nation Sunday morning to give his opinion on where the US stands in the fight against the coronavirus.
When asked about the Biden government’s recent restrictions on travel from India, which is experiencing a deadly second wave due to a variant called B.1.617, Gottlieb said he doesn’t see them having much of an impact.
“I’m not sure what we hope to achieve if the goal is to prevent the virus from entering the United States,” he said.
‘There is already a lot of virus here if the goal is to prevent the introduction of that new variant, B.1.617, which is circulating in India. I assure you he’s already here. ‘
“These travel restrictions may serve a purpose, but we now need to be clear about what that purpose is,” he continued.
‘We still have restrictions on travel from China and the UK. That makes no sense. I’m not exactly sure what the overall strategy is around these ongoing travel restrictions that we have. ‘
Gottlieb said the best way to protect Americans from virus variants – wherever they come from – is to increase vaccination rates here at home.
Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb (pictured) said on Sunday that US travel restrictions from countries such as India, China and the United Kingdom “make no sense.”
The US has so far not banned flights from countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, but has restricted travel for non-citizens from places where the virus, or its variants, is spreading at the appropriate speed.
The ban bans foreigners who have been in a restricted country in the 14 days prior to their arrival in the US. The restrictions do not apply to US citizens returning to the US.
COUNTRIES ON THE US LIMITED LIST
India was added to the restricted list last week for enduring a second wave in which doctors say 30,000 people die every day, bodies pile up in the streets and three different kinds of its native variety plague the country.
Other countries on the restricted list are the UK, Brazil, Ireland, China and 26 European countries that are part of the border-free Schengen zone.
They include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain , Sweden and Switzerland.
Gottlieb acknowledged that viral mutations are ‘thriving’ in all different parts of the world, but argued that restricting travel won’t do much to stop their spread.
“The more this virus keeps circulating, the more it will keep mutating,” he said.
But the reality is that these variants don’t just pop up in one market and migrate all over the world. That emerges simultaneously in every market.
‘You get what we call convergent evolution, in which the same mutations that arise in other parts of the world also arise here spontaneously.
There are probably a finite number of ways this virus will try to mutate to bypass our immunity. And it tests us all over the world.
The same mutations that arise in other parts of the world also arise here. They just haven’t gotten a foothold here, in part because we vaccinated our audience. ‘
The State Department released its level 4 travel advisory on Wednesday, urging all Americans in India to leave as soon as possible. Passengers arriving Thursday and Friday on flights from India told DailyMail.com that the majority of their flights were full
India is in deep crisis, with overwhelming hospitals and morgues, shortages of medicines and oxygen and strict restrictions on traffic in the largest cities. Pictured: Family members perform final rites for COVID-19 victims during their funeral at a cremation site in New Delhi
Gottlieb called the US vaccination record so far a “ monumental achievement ” and predicted that coronavirus cases will continue to decline dramatically in the coming months as a result.
As of Sunday, more than 146.2 million American adults have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 103.4 million have been fully vaccinated, representing 44 percent and 31.2 percent of the total population, respectively.
Gottlieb pointed to San Francisco as a “harbinger” of how effective vaccinations can be in controlling the virus.
About 71 percent of people in San Francisco have had at least one dose of vaccine, 47 percent have been fully vaccinated [and they’re] record about 20 cases a day, ”he said.
“They’ve drastically reduced COVID in that city, and that’s largely the result of vaccination.
‘I think the gains we’re seeing across the country are stuck right now. We are entering warm months in which this will create a backstop against the continued spread of the corona virus. And so we hold onto these winnings. ‘
As of Sunday, more than 146.2 million American adults have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 103.4 million have been fully vaccinated, which equates to 44 percent and 31.2 percent of the total population, respectively.
Gottlieb continued, ‘I think if we look forward to summer we will be able to resume normal activity or something similar to normal activity will still be a layer of protection on top of what we do, I think people are . will still be careful.
“But this will be a relatively quiet summer when it comes to the spread of the corona virus.”
When asked about when vaccines will become available for younger age groups, including children 12 to 16 years old, Gottlieb said he is hopeful the FDA will give approval “in a very short time.”
“ Once that’s approved, I think you’ll probably pick up five million kids, they’ll be vaccinated right away, ” he said.
Gottlieb said plans for how to provide the vaccine to children are still underway, but he thinks the best option would be to provide them through pediatricians.