Washington – Former Food and Drug Administration chief Dr Scott Gottlieb slammed the Biden administration for refusing to send more doses of vaccine to Michigan as state suffers ain COVID-19 cases, saying the federal government should adapt its current vaccination strategy to increase vaccine doses and resources to virus hot spots.
“It’s a request that has been made for weeks now, and I think we should have done it weeks ago,” Gottlieb said on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “It’s never too late to do it. And it’s not just a supplemental vaccine, but the resources needed to actually bring the vaccine to bear.”
In recent weeks, Michigan has emerged as the new epicenter of the pandemic, leading the country by far in new cases of COVID-19, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Last week, Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she spoke with President Biden and members of the White House COVID-19 response team and pleaded with them to increase the doses to the ‘State to help mitigate the spread of the virus. But Jeffrey Zients, the White House COVID-19 response team coordinator, said Michigan would not receive additional doses, stressing the need to be fair and just to other states.
“Now is not the time to change course on vaccine allocation,” Zients said on Friday. “There are tens of millions of people across the country in every state and county who have yet to be vaccinated, and the fair and equitable way to distribute the vaccine is based on the adult population by state, tribe and territory. . “
Whitmer reiterated his call for more vaccine doses earlier on “Face the Nation,”that it is “important to recognize where there might be a need for adjustments along the way”.
Gottlieb said the Biden administration should give more thought to targeting vaccines and related resources to hot spots as more Americans are vaccinated and epidemics become more localized.
“We have to get into the habit of trying to pour resources into these hot spots to put out these spreading fires,” Gottlieb said, noting that the entire Great Lakes region is experiencing a high rate of infection.
Instead of increasing additional doses to Michigan, the White House sent additional staff from the CDC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help with testing and contact tracing, two things which the administration says , will have the fastest impact on the virus outbreak.
Much of the recent Michigan epidemic is due to infections among young people. Between January and March, Michigan experienced 291 outbreaks associated with youth sports teams, according to Whitmer, who last week urged local officials to suspend in-person events for two weeks.
“I think it was safe for the governor to put the brakes on or at least make recommendations to local authorities to curb extracurricular activities and also high schools,” Gottlieb said. “They are going to have to take a break until they get over this outbreak of infection that they are seeing right now.”
Gottlieb noted that the risk in schools correlated directly with the risk in the surrounding community, adding that there had been a 17% increase in epidemics in the communities during the first week of April, which, according to Michigan public health officials came from schools.
Friday, Pfizer and BioNTechan emergency use clearance from the FDA to extend eligibility for their vaccine to children aged 12 to 15.
In “Face the Nation”, Whitmer andCalifornia’s superintendent of public education was reluctant to embrace the idea of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for children returning to school. Gottlieb said political leaders across the country would likely be reluctant to impose vaccination on students.
“I think COVID-related issues have become an unfortunate political tipping point in this country,” Gottlieb said. “And I think you’re going to see governors from all walks of life hesitate to mandate [vaccines], in part because they know that if they enter this debate and impose mandates, it will generate more opposition. “
He said decisions on prescribing COVID-19 vaccines would likely rest with local school boards, which will come under pressure from both sides of the problem.
“I think what’s going to happen is if you see outbreaks in local communities, they’ll put pressure on local school boards to prescribe the vaccine,” he said. “And I think you are also, unfortunately, in some communities, probably going to see fights between parents trying to influence local school boards to impose vaccination or local health districts to force vaccination of children. . level.”