Dr. Scott Gottlieb, then Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, testified during a hearing in October 2017. In an NPR interview, Gottlieb says he doesn’t expect enough demand for the COVID-19 vaccine, well beyond 160 million Americans. Drew Angerer / Getty Images hide subtitles
Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Drew Angerer / Getty Images
One in four Americans would turn down a coronavirus vaccine if offered. This was the result of a recent NPR / Marist survey. Another 5% are “undecided” as to whether they would get the shot. And some researchers are increasingly concerned that this reluctance will be enough to prevent the nation from achieving what is known as herd immunity.
A former head of the Food and Drug Administration also has doubts about achieving herd immunity, the point at which the virus can no longer easily spread among the population.
More than 123 million people, or approximately 37% of the US population, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, FDA commissioner from 2017 to 2019, says the nation is reaching a point where supply will exceed demand. Gottlieb is a member of the board of directors of Pfizer, which makes one of the coronavirus vaccines.
“I think there are probably 150 million Americans who like to be vaccinated. And if we expand to the younger age cohorts and a new eligible population, you won’t see that the demand is that high,” Gottlieb told an interview with the Morning Edition of NPR.
“I think we’re getting 150 million vaccines. I think we’re struggling to get 160 million,” he says, which is roughly half the US population. “In addition, I think it will be difficult. I’m not sure if you have the demand there.”
But it’s not as bad as it sounds.
“I don’t know that we will ever achieve herd immunity,” says Gottlieb. “But I think the combination of vaccinating so many people and having great population immunity to previous infections.” [is] enough that the spread of this virus is significantly reduced. “
On Tuesday, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a break in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine until reports of very rare, potentially dangerous blood clots were reviewed.
Blood clots were found in six recipients, one of which died. Those affected, all women, were among approximately 7 million people in the United States who received the J&J recordings.
Gottlieb said he was expecting a short break.
“I think this is likely to be a temporary pause during which the agency will evaluate the information it has to see if there are any more cases to report to the agency and possibly provide guidance on how to use the vaccine and what Doctors should be vigilant and then allow the vaccine to continue being distributed, “he says.
He added, “I think it is more than likely that the use of the vaccine will be resumed for part of the population. That should be reassuring for the public.”
Jeevika Verma and Arezou Rezvani produced this interview and edited it for broadcast.
Jeevika Verma, Milton Guevara, Ziad Buchh, Arezou Rezvani and Fernando Pizarro produced and edited the audio version of this story. Avie Schneider produced for the web.