In a welcomed Mother’s Day gift on Sunday’s Face the Nation, former FDA commissioner and Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb called for the end of outdoor and INDOOR mask mandates in a “wholesale fashion” since the country was well on its way to getting over the COVID pandemic. He argued that “the public has to trust that public health officials are going to lift these restrictions as quickly as they put them in place as the conditions improve” as a way to “maintain our integrity.”
Interestingly, Gottlieb was teed up to deliver his message by fill-in CBS moderator John Dickerson. “Every time we talk, we talk about where things are and then you kind of tell us where things are going to be,” Dickerson prefaced. “Your feeling now about maybe changing those mandates for indoor masks. You think they should be lifted do you?”
Noting that “COVID won’t disappear” and “we’re going to have to learn to live with it,” Gottlieb pointed out the fact that “the risk is substantially reduced as a result of vaccination, as a result of immunity that people have required there prior infection.”
And from there, he announced: “I think we’re at a point in time where we can start lifting these ordinances in a wholesale fashion. And people have to take precautions based on their individual risk.”
Gottlieb cited the science that said half the country was seeing 10 cases for every 100,000 people with 25 percent projected to be at five for 100,000 by the coming week. “So, we’re at the point where we can start lifting these ordinances and allowing people to resume normal activities. Certainly, outdoors we shouldn’t be putting limits on gatherings anymore,” he declared. “I think we can start lifting these restrictions indoors as well on a broad basis.”
Dickerson followed up by asking his guest to help viewers calculate their own relative risk and the doctor noted that the science tells us that “you can start resuming normal activity” because of the high efficacy of the vaccines. “The data now does support that. So, we could start drawing some firm conclusions and basing our public health advice on that.”
And according to Gottlieb, the vaccines were so effective at stopping the virus that the risk of death for the vaccinated was equal to or less than the flu:
But I think for, you know, most consumers who need something to anchor against, I think that that’s a fair assessment that if you’re fully vaccinated against COVID with one of the Western vaccines, your risk of having a bad outcome from COVID is about comparable to flu and maybe less because the vaccines for COVID are more effective than the vaccines for flu. So, I think that that’s a reasonable way for the average consumer to anchor their thinking about COVID right now.
“I think we can get back to doing normal things right now against the backdrop of a summer when prevalence is going to decline very quickly,” he said.
In his conclusion, Gottlieb made the case that all health officials needed to start pushing for the lifting of mask mandates as a way to “maintain our integrity and our ability to reimplement these things when we have to.”
Adding: “The public has to trust that public health officials are going to lift these restrictions as quickly as they put them in place as the conditions improve. And that’s probably partly what’s holding back the economy right now.”