That’s not encouraging: Former FDA chief Gottlieb says variant-specific vaccines ‘may not work’

With the rise of the Omicron variant, the vaccine choir has been “amen”-ing the COVID preachers and the call for more vaccines — especially jabs specific to new variants.

But such offerings might not actually work, according to the media’s favorite pharmaceutical company employee and former Trump official, Scott Gottlieb.

Gottlieb, the onetime head honcho at the Food and Drug Administration, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday that people shouldn’t get too excited about variant-specific shots because they “may not work” the way they hope.

Host Margaret Brennan asked, “Does the administration need to look at getting vaccine manufacturers to kind of reboot the existing vaccine to chase these mutations in the new variant?”

Gottlieb answered that drug companies, including Pfizer, are already doing that.

But he warned that there are no guarantees that new shots designed for Omicron would actually do any good.

“What we’ve seen in the past, for example, when we engineered a vaccine to specifically target 1351, the old South African variant, was that vaccine worked well or appeared to work well against 1351 but didn’t appear to provide as good coverage against all the other variants,” he explained. “And there’s reason to believe that as you develop vaccines that are very specific to some of these new variants, they may not work as well against the full complement of different variants that we’ve seen.”

Gottlieb’s advice for vax makers? Stick with the “Wuhan strain in the vaccine” for “as long as possible.”

“What happens is as the virus mutates, it probably starts to hide some of the viral targets on its surface,” he added. “And so, you get a vaccine that doesn’t provide as broad immunity to the full complement of targets on its surface. So, you get a more narrow vaccine.”


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