Former FDA chief and Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC he was "hopeful" there would be adequate vaccine supplies in 2021 after the Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer would cut its initial estimates for vaccine quantities this year due to supply chain issues.
"The supply increases very quickly when you move out, and the more you postpone this period by a week or two until 2021, the less supply you will have in 2020," said Gottlieb. "I am confident that we will have adequate supply in 2021 and it will increase very quickly, but hopefully these will hit the market this year."
According to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data, an American died of Covid about every 30 seconds on Wednesday. The virus has killed more than 275,000 Americans, and the United States reported more than 2,800 deaths, most in a single day since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins. Hospital stays have doubled in the last month. More than 100,000 people were in hospitals with Covid on Wednesday, an all-time high according to the COVID Tracking Project.
Dr. Bruce Becker, associate professor of behavioral medicine and social sciences at Brown University's School of Public Health, warned of the rising death toll in the coming months.
"I assume that the death rate will continue at this level or even double in the next month," said Becker. "Every winter we see significant death rates from influenza, other respiratory viruses and bacterial pneumonia, especially in the population most susceptible to severe Covid-19 infections. Expect this population to experience severe Covid-19 in the next three to four years. 19 disease and mortality suffers months. "
Gottlieb told host Shepard Smith that he felt "Britain is a good regulator". Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech will launch the vaccine in the UK next week after UK regulators cleared it for emergency use on Wednesday.
"I've worked closely with them. Many of the people who are there now are from the European regulator and returned to the UK after Brexit. So I think they looked through this data well," said Gottlieb.
The CNBC official stated that the FDA's process is different from the UK system, particularly due to the FDA's commitment to a public advisory body and public broadcast of information. This process will in turn contribute to the vaccine approval process for a few weeks.
"We believe it pays for the public health to publicly disseminate this information, have this public advisory committee meeting, have the FDA's outside advisors and independent advisors validate the process and provide objective opinions in an open environment," said Gottlieb in a Thursday evening interview on "The News with Shepard Smith". "I think this will go a long way towards building public confidence. So it might be worthwhile to use the time for it."
So far, the virus has killed more than 100,000 people in nursing homes. Nationwide, people who work and live in long-term care facilities account for less than 6% of all Covid cases, but they are responsible for nearly 40% of virus-related deaths, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
On Tuesday, a group of medical experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted to move older people to nursing homes and medical staff if a vaccine is approved. Gottlieb said the vaccines will be distributed to specific locations and rationed to these populations for a period of time.
"There will be a tipping point where I believe there will be sufficient supply in the market for this rationing system to gradually decrease and be available to larger groups of people on a larger scale," said Gottlieb. "I guess it will be in March."
The vaccines to be released from Pfizer and Moderna appear to be more than 90% effective in preventing coronavirus, but only after patients have received two doses at least 20 days apart. Smith expressed concern about Americans taking two doses of the vaccine. Gottlieb said that while there is some protection after the first dose, both doses should be taken for 95% effectiveness. Becker reiterated Gottlieb's views, stressing the importance of fully protecting both cans.
"Don't skip the second dose as the first dose caused a headache, low fever, or sore muscles," Becker said. "These symptoms are not covid! They appear with most vaccinations, from tetanus to flu. This is how your body makes antibodies to protect you."