The former head of the Food and Drug Administration Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Thursday the current delta-variant spike in coronavirus infections will peak in August, and ''may be over sooner than we think.''
In remarks to CNBC, where he is a contributor, Gottlieb said there may be another slight uptick after children return to classrooms and schools report outbreaks.
''I think the bottom line is we’re going to see continued growth, at least in the next three to four weeks,'' he said. ''There’s going to be a peak sometime probably around late August, early September.
''I happen to believe that we’re further into this delta wave than we’re measuring so this may be over sooner than we think,'' he added. ''But we don’t really know because we’re not doing a lot of testing now either.''
A small bump in infection rates could happen as schools reopen in the fall and become ''vectors of transmission'' as they did with the variant first discovered in Britain, and now called alpha, said Gottlieb.
Gottlieb said wearing masks may not be enough protection against the delta variant in classrooms, advising it would be better to create pods, space out children in the classroom, avoid group meals and suspend certain large activities, as well as improve air filtration and quality levels.
''There might be other things you do that actually achieve more risk reduction than the masks in the setting of a much more contagious variant where we know there’s going to be spread even with masks,'' Gottlieb said. ''If we’re going to tell people to wear masks, I do think we need to start educating people better about quality of masks and the differences in terms of the reduction and risk you’re achieving with different kinds of masks.''
Gottlieb, who serves on the board of COVID vaccine maker Pfizer, said the critical question right now is how likely vaccinated people are to transmit the virus if they become infected. He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should be collecting that data because it’s likely that the current delta variant may be the newer, more permanent form of coronavirus.
Nearly 162 million people in the United States are fully vaccinated — almost 49% of the nation’s population — even as the rate of daily administered shots has seen a sharp dip in recent months, according to a CDC tracker.
''The endgame here was always going to be a final wave of infection,'' Gottlieb told CNBC on Thursday. ''We had anticipated that this summer would be relatively quiet and we’d have a surge of infections in the fall … and that would be sort of the final wave of the pandemic phase of this virus and we would enter a more endemic phase where this virus just becomes a fact of life and it circulates at a certain level.
''We have therapeutics and vaccines to deal with it, we’re better at treating it and it becomes sort of like a second flu,'' he said.
Fran Beyer ✉
Fran Beyer is a writer with Newsmax and covers national politics.
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