New York’s homegrown COVID-19 variant may be infecting people who have already had the virus — or even been vaccinated, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration said Sunday.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb said it remains unclear if the COVID-19 variant, known as B.1.526, is driving viral surges in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
“What we don’t understand with 1.526 is whether or not people are being reinfected with it and whether or not people who might have been vaccinated are now getting infected with it,” Gottlieb told CBS anchor Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation.”
The New York variant contains a mutation similar to the South African variant B.1.351, which has shown “in certain cases” to reinfect people who have already had the bug, Gottlieb said.
“The question is whether [B.1.526] is responsible for some of the increases that we’re seeing in New York right now and whether this is the beginning of a new outbreak inside the city,” he said.
The former Trump administration official said public health experts currently lack sufficient data to draw any clear conclusions.
He called on the CDC to work with New York officials to identify potential coronavirus reinfections tied to B.1.526, which he warned are “probably more prevalent than what we’re detecting.