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Former FDA chief Gottlieb says 6-foot social distancing 'wasn't based on clear science'

Gottlieb made the comment as states try to ease some COVID-19 restrictions amid lower case numbers and more Americans getting vaccinated.

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UK masks
A sign calling for the wearing of face coverings in shops is displayed in Leeds.
(Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Updated: March 22, 2021 - 7:45am

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Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says that 6-foot social distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 "wasn't based on clear science."

He also says the health-safety tactic – to help stop the virus spread through the air – isn't as effective as medical experts thought when the pandemic started.

"This 6-foot distancing requirement has probably been the single-costliest mitigation tactic that we've employed in response to COVID, and it really wasn't based on clear science," Gottlieb said in an interview for CNBC Friday.

In the interview, it's unclear what exact costs to which he was referring. 

Gottlieb said that in the beginning, the government and health organizations treated the spread of COVID-19 as though it were the flu, which he says is spread primarily through droplets.

"We've subsequently learned that COVID is spreading through aerosols, not just droplets, so probably six feet isn't as effective as it would be if it was a purely droplet-based transmission," Gottlieb said. "There's nothing wrong with having followed that flu-based model and been wrong, but we should have been evaluating this along the way."

Gottlieb made the comment as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its recommendation on social distancing in schools – to three feet from six feet.

Gottlieb said that "we need to see light at the end of the tunnel and have guidance that prescribes an environment where people can start doing things again," as reported by The Epoch Times.

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