Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Monday that he expected the rising US coronavirus cases related to the highly communicable Delta variant to decline in the next two to three weeks, citing the decline in infections in the UK as evidence of this what could be happening in America.
England’s experience during the pandemic has been seen as a harbinger for the US and other countries, and provides insight into the later spread of new strains of the virus.
“I think the more observable trend is what is going on in the UK, where cases are clearly declining at this point. There is a very clear downward trend. It seems like it has peaked,” Gottlieb said in an interview with “Squawk Kasten.”
The seven-day average of new infections in the UK reached around 47,700 on July 18, after rising steadily from the end of May, according to government figures. The number of cases has decreased in the past few days, with 29,173 reported on Sunday.
“If the UK goes around the corner, that is a pretty good sign that we might be further on than we think and maybe two or three weeks away from seeing our own plateau here in the United States,” said Gottlieb, who headed the Food and Drug Administration commissioner in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019.
One reason for Gottlieb’s view is that the coronavirus testing landscape in the US is different than it was in earlier stages of the pandemic. For example, he said that the results of home tests that are now available may not be reported to health officials, so “we don’t record all of our positive tests”.
“Many of the people who become symptomatic become more symptomatic because they are younger or have been vaccinated and simply become asymptomatic or slightly symptomatic. So these people do not present for testing,” added Gottlieb, who is on the board of directors at the Covid vaccine manufacturer Pfizer is seated.
According to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the weekly average of daily new infections in the US is close to 52,000. That’s 61% more than a week ago. On July 5, the seven-day average of the country’s daily new infections was just below 12,000.
The rising number of cases is causing US health officials to consider recommending the use of masks again for fully vaccinated people, according to Chief White House Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“Our determination – the percentage of people who show up for testing and are actually recorded – is pretty low right now, so this wave of infections must be much more pervasive than what we discover, which means we are further into it than what we are discovering. what we discover we believe, “said Gottlieb.
Gottlieb said that “the only challenge” for the US, which starts in two to three weeks, is to see such a schedule coincide with time when many students go back to school.
“We’re going to turn a corner at the exact point where schools reopen, and my concern is that reopening schools could in cases cause some kind of second bump or look like a pattern where you see a decline and then it balances out because reopening the schools becomes a source of local transmission and we’re not getting out as fast as we would have, “he said.” That remains to be seen.
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.