According to former Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the time for school mask mandates should end. Specifically, he said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should adjust its COVID masking guidance.
US Population Has More Immunity Now
In a Squawk Box interview on CNBC, Gottlieb explains his reason for dropping school mask mandates. He said that a much more contagious variant will probably circulate soon.
However, the US population now features better immunity, even among schoolchildren. He said that the US should tolerate a higher level of baseline spread to the point of withdrawing some mitigation measures.
He alluded to the widespread vaccination of children 6 to 12 years old. In addition, Pfizer is currently securing FDA clearance for its vaccinations for children 6 months to 5 years.
US Should Start Removing School Mask Mandates
In addition, Gottlieb said that the US should stop waiting for what the CDC calls low prevalence in the community. Usually, this means 10 cases per 100,000 Americans per day.
The CDC usually requires this scenario before ending mitigating measures such as school mask mandates.
“If we wait for 10 cases per 100,000 per day in most communities, we’re probably going to be waiting until the summer,” he said.
It means that the US will miss the chance to return some sense of normalcy by the time schools reopen in the fall. Gottlieb also suggested halving the threshold to 20 cases per 100,000 people per day.
CDC Continues To Employ High Threshold Despite Omicron
Gottlieb said the CDC’s guidance remains “a pretty high threshold in the age of Omicron”. Agency testing conducted before the strain showed that 90% of Americans have antibodies. They produced the antibodies either through vaccines, a previous COVID infection, or both.
When asked about educators’ opposition to getting rid of masking, Gottlieb said lower cases and a vaccinated workforce will help protect teachers. “As prevalence comes down, the risk comes down substantially,” he said.
Gottlieb added that “vaccines are still very protective against symptomatic disease and severe outcomes in the setting of Omicron.”
Watch the Face the Nation video reporting that former FDA official Dr. Scott Gottlieb says Omicron immunity should provide a “backstop” against BA.2 variant:
Do you agree with Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s suggestion to relax COVID mitigations against a milder form of coronavirus? Specifically, do you support his move to drop school mask mandates?
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