Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and current board member at Pfizer, said that declining COVID-19 cases should signal to policymakers that it is time to lift more pandemic-related restrictions.
“I think certainly on the east coast where you see cases declining dramatically we need to be willing to lean in and do that very soon I think as conditions improve we have to be willing to relax some of these measures with the same speed that we put them in place,” he told “The Squawk Box” in a Monday interview when asked about whether mask mandates should be dropped.
Gottlieb said that “a lot of the acrimony” in the United States stems from a lack of “clear goalposts” about when some of the measures will end.
The former FDA commissioner also cited the Connecticut government’s recent decision to rescind vaccine mandates for state workers as a policy that other policymakers should adopt in the near future as COVID-19 cases decline nationwide.
“The only way to get compliance from people and get accommodation [is] if we demonstrate the ability to withdraw these [mandates] in the same manner in which we put them in,” Gottlieb added.
The call for COVID-19 restrictions to be dropped comes as the overall infection rate in the United States has sharply declined in recent days. Data from the Johns Hopkins-run Our World in Data shows that 4,110 out of every one million Americans recorded infections on Jan. 10, but that rate was 2,643 as late as Friday and dropped to 615 per one million as of Sunday.
Outside the United States, more and more European countries have moved to rescind certain COVID-19-related rules, including vaccine passports and mask mandates. For example, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that starting Jan. 27, people in England won’t have to wear masks in public or show proof that they’ve been vaccinated to enter some venues.
But on Monday, World Health Organization’s (WHO) director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that more COVID-19 variants may emerge and alleged that it’s dangerous to assume Omicron is the last one or that “we are in the endgame.”
“There are different scenarios for how the pandemic could play out and how the acute phase could end. But it’s dangerous to assume that omicron will be the last variant or that we are in the endgame,” Tedros told a WHO board meeting. “On the contrary, globally, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge.” He didn’t provide evidence or data to back up his claim.