Former FDA Chief: We're 'A Week Away' From COVID Outbreak

Alek Korab
·4 min read

With COVID cases rising across the country, experts are warning of a fall and winter surge—and advising how you can stay safe. CNBC medical contributor and former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb spoke with Shepard Smith on CNBC yesterday about just that. Read on for his essential advice, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

1

Gottlieb Warned We Will See a "Rapid Acceleration" in a Week

Emergency medic and doctor moving patient to emergency room in hospital
Emergency medic and doctor moving patient to emergency room in hospital

"We're facing a tough circumstance right now. We're going to see accelerating cases heading into the next four to six weeks. Um, probably into the end of the year right now, it's going to be a difficult fall and winter. I think we're about two or three weeks behind Europe. So we're about a week away from starting to enter a period where we're going to see a rapid acceleration in cases. And I think November and December are going to be tough months. We're seeing hospitalizations go up in 42 states. Right now, cases are going up in 45 states and there really is no backstop. You know, the summer was a backstop of sorts to the spring surge. And we have no therapeutic backstop in the season. The fall and winter season is when this coronavirus is going to want to spread."

2

Gottlieb Advises Against Family Gatherings

Happy young lady adult daughter granddaughter visiting embracing hugging old senior retired grandmother cuddling
Happy young lady adult daughter granddaughter visiting embracing hugging old senior retired grandmother cuddling

"When you talk to the governors about where they're seeing the outbreaks occur, when they do their tracing and they trace back to where the source of the infection were was oftentimes it's family gatherings—it's gatherings at local social halls, Elks clubs, things like that. It's not people going into bars and restaurants per se. So I think we need to be careful in those settings where we let our guard down. And we think that we're safe."

3

Gottlieb Says We Can't Let Our Guard Down

grandmother carrying turkey for family on thanksgiving dinner
grandmother carrying turkey for family on thanksgiving dinner

"And you know, we're really coming to what I said this morning was the seventh inning of the acute phases pandemic. We've been through a lot right now. We've managed to protect the vulnerable in many cases. And I think we can't let our guard down right now. Thanksgiving is going to be a tempting occasion to bring together families. But if you have older individuals in the family, people who are vulnerable, I think you need to think about how to protect them through the holiday."

RELATED: 11 Symptoms of COVID You Never Want to Get

4

Gottlieb Said When the Risk Will Recede

Woman celebrating without mask
Woman celebrating without mask

As we get into 2021, the risk is going to start to recede. We'll have a vaccine for vulnerable populations, hopefully heading into 2021. And, you know, we can look to happier days, but these are gonna be some tough months ahead of us. And I think we can't let our guard down right now."

5

Gottlieb Predicted When We May Have a Vaccine

scientist looking at ampoule with new medication, vaccination development
scientist looking at ampoule with new medication, vaccination development

"Well, if people are optimistic based on the early data, but we won't know until we know until we unblind these large trials, I'm on a board of Pfizer. One of the companies doing a large scale trial with one of the vaccines that's in advanced development. But remember, even if these trials are successful and these vaccines make it onto the market, they're authorized by FDA through an emergency use authorization, the first group of patients who get that vaccine, aren't going to have protective immunity into 2021. It's going to be probably February, March before they're fully immune or have the full benefits of the vaccine. Because even if the applications get filed at the end of November, which is the schedule right now, when it could happen, if the vaccine trials are successful and the FDA takes two to four weeks to authorize those vaccines, it's going to take about a month to vaccinate that initial population, which are going to be more vulnerable Americans. Then you have to wait about three to four weeks to get a second shot and not, everyone's going to get that exactly on time. And after you get that second shot, then you have to wait about two weeks to have the full benefits of the immunity. So you're putting the schedule towards February or March when people will have the full benefit of the vaccine. Even if it's on schedule, even if things go right and new authorizations happen sometime this year."

Until then, to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.