Dr. Scott Gottlieb explained why he was optimistic about Merck’s antiviral Covid pill after the drug maker asked the Food and Drug Administration on Monday to authorize its pill to treat people with mild to moderate symptoms of Covid.
“The topline data from this Merck study were probably the best treatment effects we’ve seen with orally available antivirals in the treatment of respiratory pathogens. So this can make a real difference,” said the former FDA chief in the Trump- Administration.
If the agency picks up the drug, it will be the first pill proven to work against Covid-19, and Americans could get it by the end of the year.
Gottlieb told CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith” Merck’s pill was part of an “overall, significant improvement in our therapeutic toolkit against this virus, not just with vaccines and therapeutics, but with more accessible diagnostic tests.”
Host Shepard Smith also asked Gottlieb about masking rules across the country. Gottlieb told Smith that he believes decisions are made locally, noting the uneven prevalence of the Delta variant in the US
“We’ve seen big declines in the south, where most of the delta runs, so cases are going down a lot in populous states like Texas and Florida, but epidemics are pretty dense in the Midwest and the simple states, and we me I still don’t know how the Northeast and the Northern States will fare, “said Gottlieb.
He predicted that a Covid-19 delta wave could hit the northern US states despite higher vaccination rates and higher previous infection rates.
“I still think there is a delta wave that will sweep across the northern states, including the northeast,” said Gottlieb.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC employee and a member of the board of directors of Pfizer, genetic testing startup Tempus, health technology company Aetion Inc., and biotechnology company Illumina. He is also co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean.