Former FDA commissioner and Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb on Sunday said a two-shot COVID inoculation series for very young children could be approved by March.
In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Gottlieb noted children 4 years old and under are vulnerable to a bad outcome from infection without the protection of a shot.
“Getting two doses into a child can provide baseline immunity that protects them from severe disease from hospitalization,” he said.
“And I think that may be why federal health officials are rethinking this if in fact they decide to authorize this on the basis of two doses. It could be out much sooner, perhaps as early as early March.”
Gottlieb said it may be enough that the two-dose regimen prevents severe disease, as opposed to stopping infection entirely.
“I think the decision matrix has changed around the vaccine for [ages] 6 months to 4 years old and so far as we know that the vaccine isn’t as protective at preventing infection,” he said.
According to Gottlieb, data previously showed the childhood vaccine for 6 months to 4 years wasn’t as protective against infection as the adult vaccine.
“That’s the reason why they pushed it out and asked for that third dose,” he said. “But now, if the goal of the vaccine is to get baseline immunity in the kids to prevent really bad outcomes, and you’re really not using the vaccine as a tool to prevent infection in the first place, two doses could do that,” he said.
Gottlieb also suggested the time may soon come to consider withdrawing some measures like mask mandates.
“You look at a lot of federal health guidance, and it says that these measures should be lifted when there's low prevalence,” he explained.
“The CDC defines low prevalence as 10 cases per 100,000 people per day. That was the old measure in the age of omicron, with a much more contagious variant.
“And with the fact that the population has a lot of immunity, so we're less susceptible overall, we may need to rethink that. We may need to decide that once we get to 20 cases per 100,000 per day, that may be the point at which we start to withdraw these things.”
Gottlieb said getting to 10 cases per 100,000 may not be a goal “we're going to get to… anytime soon.”
“Right now, Washington, D.C. is at 50, New York's at 75,” he said. “With this new homegrown strain that's circulating, we may stall out around 20, and that may be the point where we have to consider withdrawing a lot of these measures.”
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