Despite the success on the vaccine front, Israel is currently in its third nationwide lockdown due to the spreading virus. Without downplaying the concern over the rising percentage of younger people hospitalized with serious infections, Grotto, an epidemiologist, points out that almost 70% of Israelis above the age of 60 have now received their first shot providing them with some immunity.
CNBC contributor and former FDA head Dr. Scott Gottlieb has been eyeing trends in Israel and Europe since the pandemic began a year ago, and using them as a possible model for what could happen in the United States, including the relatively newly discovered U.K. variant.
“If we can get the vaccine deployed we can probably head it off,” Gottlieb said, referring to the more dangerous, faster spreading strain.
He thinks the recent and alarming spike in cases in the U.S. is more related to holiday travel and gatherings, “but the bottom line is we don’t have a good enough surveillance system to know with certainty,” Gottlieb said.
The U.K. variant, he said, is only officially accounting for 0.2% of U.S. cases. Gottlieb also warned U.S. health officials aren’t yet looking as carefully as they should for the increasingly dangerous strain that’s wreaking havoc on an overwhelmed South African health system.