FILE – In this Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 file photo, a droplet falls from a syringe after a health care worker was injected with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

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UPDATED 9:20 AM PT – Monday, February 1, 2021

The former head of the FDA, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, said vaccines are the backstop the nation desperately needs to end the coronavirus pandemic and save countless lives. As Americans continue to see their lives upended by the pandemic, hope of a return to normalcy seems to rest solely on vaccine distribution.

The recent emergence of two new coronavirus variants coming out of the U.K. and South Africa has health experts concerned about the trajectory of the outbreak. Dr. Gottlieb said there is evidence to show the U.K. variant is around 50 percent more transmissible and expressed concern over it possibly being more severe.

“There’s some evidence right now that does suggest that it’s more pathogenic…that it does cause more severe illness,” he stated. “We do know that it’s about 50 percent more transmissible.”

While the medical community is still investigation whether the new strains are in fact more severe, Dr. Gottlieb went on to note early data suggests individuals who have already had the virus can build up immunity, but the amount of time it can last is yet unclear.

Dr. Gottlieb said he doesn’t think there will be a pandemic this time next year in all of the U.S., but still warned certain “hot spot” regions could still deal with upticks in cases.

“I think that the possibility is that we’re not going to see a national epidemic in the spring and the summer time, it’s a risk in the fall,” he stated. “But what we’re likely to see is regionalized epidemics with this new variant and there’s two places in the country right now that are the two hot spots: Southern California and South Florida.”

The Biden administration has continued to fumble the roll out of the vaccine with thousands of people continuing to die because of it.

Dr. Gottlieb believes things in the country are clearly improving thanks to Operation Warp Speed, which was put in place by President Trump. The former FDA commissioner has urged of the public to follow health guidelines.

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