Ex-FDA Chief Criticizes Six-Foot Social Distancing Rule

By Author: Arvind Datta
19 0
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), believes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) suggestion to maintain six feet of social distance during the pandemic was not based on clear science

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), believes that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) suggestion to maintain six feet of social distance during the pandemic was not based on precise science. 

In an interview with CNBC, he said that the six-foot social distancing requirement was possibly the “single-costliest mitigation tactic” the United States has deployed against the viral pandemic. Gottlieb noted that the initial advisory was based on the assumption that the coronavirus spreads like seasonal influenza. 

“It was reasonable to do that because we didn’t know a lot about the coronavirus, so we assumed it was going to behave like flu. It has not behaved like flu… It isn’t so much a question of Were we wrong about that? We were wrong in certain respects. But: Did we learn quickly enough, and did we adapt our recommendations and guidelines quickly enough? And the answer is no,” he told CNBC.

Ex-FDA chief thinks the coronavirus was under and overestimated.

Gottlieb believes that health authorities underestimated and overestimated the coronavirus (also known as the CCP virus) in several ways. They failed to understand that the coronavirus spreads through aerosol transmissions; they consequently underestimated the role of high-quality masks and air quality. They overestimated the impact of physical distancing on equating the coronavirus pandemic with the flu.

Since flu is mainly transmitted via droplets and it is known that droplets do not spread more than six feet, the social distancing rules for the pandemic were set at six feet. Last October, many months after the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared the viral outbreak a pandemic, the CDC acknowledged that the virus could remain airborne several minutes or hours after exiting a person. That discovery would make the six-foot distance rule ineffective.

Gottlieb says that CDC’s six-feet social distancing rule was not based on precise science. (Image: pixabay/ CC0.1.0)

His comments come as the CDC updated its social distancing guidelines, requiring school students only to maintain a distance of three feet from each other. Itis applicable provided the students are wearing masks. That is recommended for all K-12 students, irrespective of whether the community transmission rates are substantial or low. 

However, middle and high school students should still remain six feet apart if cohorting is not possible. Cohorting is the practice of keeping the same students and staff together throughout the school day to lower the chances of spreading the virus.

The United States sees a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in 27 states. Data from John Hopkins University shows that new infection numbers in these states are up by at least 5 percent. 

At present, the government is administering 2.5 million vaccines per day. There are some concerns that higher infection rates will also pose a problem to protecting the country through vaccinations. 

“An even more dangerous variant may emerge that could make the vaccine less effective,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the former CDC director, told CNN.

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