The Biden administration's controversial vaccine/testing mandate was designed to boost immunizations nationwide, but it may have had the opposite effect by hardening the attitudes of opponents, says the Trump administration's FDA commissioner.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the mandate for large employers, ruling that Congress did not give the Occupational Safety and Health Administration the authority to require vaccinations and testing by employers who have 100 or more workers.
President Biden, in a Thursday statement, claimed that the mandate – although never fully enforced – boosted vaccinations and prevented deaths nationwide.
But Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner under former President Donald Trump, criticized the mandate.
"I've always thought that this was a bridge too far in terms of the divisive nature of it and the opposition that it would engender," Gottlieb told CNBC's Squawk Box Friday. "You're now seeing political lines form, you're seeing the issue of vaccination become an overtly political issue – in part because of opposition to this mandate. And my question all along was: How much are we going to gain from a public health standpoint for that opposition?"
"I've always thought this was a bridge too far in terms of the divisive nature of it and the opposition it would engender. You're now seeing political lines form. You're seeing the issue of vaccination become an overtly political issue," says @ScottGottliebMD on vaccine mandate.. pic.twitter.com/D0Zs7ilhdm— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) January 14, 2022
In a tweet, Gottlieb said the mandate hardened "opposition to vaccination efforts."
Notwithstanding ruling, bottom line is OSHA was doing little to enforce it, and that was unlikely to change. Biden Admin realized how divisive and clunky this became. It was always a bridge too far, more likely to harden opposition to vaccination efforts than ease these divides https://t.co/U77Tm2267K— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) January 13, 2022
Gottlieb told CNBC he is concerned that opposition to the COVID-19 mandate will "bleed into other vaccine mandates that we've long taken for granted like childhood immunizations."
More than 85 percent of adults – and 95 percent of those 65 and older – have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
"And I'm not sure that this mandate is going to get us much more from a public health standpoint. Many of the people who remain unvaccinated at this point have had COVID – not once but probably twice," Gottlieb said. "So you have to ask yourself how much you're achieving."
Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group, applauded the Supreme Court ruling, saying "mandating vaccines through an OSHA emergency rule is yet another example of government overreach."
Trump, in a new interview with One America News Network, criticized the Biden mandate but defended the vaccine, saying it's saved "tens of millions of lives." Trump said 10 of his friends died from COVID-19 before there was a vaccine.
The vaccine, Trump said, dramatically lowers the hospitalization and death rate.
"People that are taking the vaccine, if they get [COVID-19] … they're not going to hospitals … and dying," he said.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Zach Gibson/Stringer
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.