Trump Administration FDA Commissioner Questions CDC Delta Variant Models

Dr. Scott Gottlieb served as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under President Trump from 2017 to 2019. He is a physician and previously worked as a clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine.

In a detailed Twitter thread he posted on July 24, Gottlieb hammered the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) over their recent models of the impact of the COVID-19 Delta variant inside the U.S.

He demonstrated that the models are so imprecise in guessing at the total numbers of cases that they are not actionable and are “deeply disappointing.” The models indicate that the CDC has no reliable information about whether case numbers are set to spike upward or come down.

“For the week ending August 14, CDC estimates there will be either an average of 10K infections a day, or more than 100K. Either the infection wave will be largely subsiding or will be raging out of control. The CDC isn’t sure,” he wrote.

He criticized the CDC approach as “another symptom of a more systemic bureaucratic disease” that indicates a “retrospective mindset.”

“For its part, CDC isn’t a prospectively-minded agency. They don’t do horizon scanning, make predictions and tie to policy recommendations, coordinate heavy lift capabilities like vaccination campaigns, engage in risk estimates, or collect intelligence on foreign areas of concern. Could a reformed CDC play such a role? I outline in detail how in my book. But it’ll have to go back to its roots aimed at disease control and empower a new agency, maybe a new NIH institute, to take on many current ‘prevention’ functions. CDC will need a national security mindset,” Gottlieb continued.

In an appearance on CNBC on July 26, Gottlieb said that he expects COVID-19 case numbers linked to the Delta variant to start declining in the next two to three weeks, reflecting the fall in infections in the United Kingdom. Case numbers in England have been a valuable predictor of trends in the U.S. and other countries.

“I think the more observable trend is what’s going on in the United Kingdom, where cases are coming down at this point. There’s a very clear trend down. It seems like they’ve peaked,” Gottlieb said.

While hospitalization and death numbers are slightly higher, there has been an increase of over 170 percent in the seven-day average of new COVID cases per day as of July 23.