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A top pharmaceutical executive is saying that pandemic-related restrictions could be relaxed as COVID-19 cases decline in some areas following a surge of the milder Omicron variant.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former director of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and current board member at Pfizer, says ending the mandates will ease what he calls “a lot of acrimony.”
“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 said on CNBC.
Gottlieb also said a lack of “clear goalposts” is confusing Americans. “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,” he said.
Cases of COVID-19 seem to be dropping just as quickly as they soared. On January 10, data showed that 4,110 out of every one million Americans were infected, but that rate dropped to 2,643 on Friday and plunged to 615 per one million on Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University compiled by Our World in Data.
The worldwide scourge of COVID-19 last week entered its third year in the U.S., and David Nabarro, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) special envoy for COVID-19, predicted it won’t be until 2024 that we see an end.
“What people are seeing from around the world and reporting to the WHO is this is still a very, very dangerous virus, especially for people who have not been vaccinated and who’ve not been exposed to it before,” Nabarro told Sky News, according to The Daily Mail.
“The end is in sight, but how long is it going to take to get there? What sort of difficulties will we face on the way? Those are the questions that none of us can answer because this virus continues to give us challenges and surprises,” Nabarro said.
“It’s as though we’re just passing the halfway mark in a marathon and we can see that yes, there is an end and fast runners are getting through ahead of us. But we’ve still got a long, long way to trudge and it’s going to be tough,” he said.
The envoy also warned officials not to compare COVID-19 to the flu — following Britain’s decision to do just that — saying it is irresponsible because it implies the virus, and its now-dominant strain “has suddenly got incredibly weak.”
He told Sky News the virus “can also mutate and form variants and we’ve seen several but we know there are more not far away. So quite honestly, we are not saying that this should be considered to be like flu or indeed like anything else — it’s a new virus, and we must go on treating it as though it is full of surprises, very nasty and rather cunning.”
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to [email protected].