Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said that the delta variant of COVID-19 could prove to be the "last major surge" of the virus seen in the United States.
"On the back end of this delta wave, I do think this is the last major surge of infection, barring something unexpected like a new variant coming along that pierces the immunity offered by vaccination or prior infection," Gottlieb said in an interview with CNN that aired on Sunday.
He also noted that case numbers have declined nationally over the last two weeks by about 18%, and that while the South’s case numbers appear to be dropping after a dramatic surge over the summer, case numbers are increasing in the Midwest and in some areas of the Pacific Northwest.
"So prevalence should decline on the back end of this delta wave, and hopefully we get back to more of a semblance of normalcy, especially when vaccines hopefully will be available for children as well," Gottlieb said.
He added that the delta variant will most likely hit harder in the northern parts of the U.S. over the next few weeks, after the virus was widely reported in the South and Midwest.
"I think you'll see a wave of infection sweep across the Northeast as kids go back to school, the weather turns cold and people move indoors," Gottlieb said.
"I think by Thanksgiving, it's probably going to have run its course across the whole country," he continued. "But it's going to seep into the northern parts of the country, the Northeast a little bit later than certainly in the South but even in the Midwest."
Gottlieb later told the network that the virus won’t be eliminated by Thanksgiving, but he predicts that the daily case rate will decline to a manageable state by that point, which he says would be about 20,000 cases each day.
"Some people will get a vaccination; some will challenge their immunity by no choice but getting the infection," he said. "People who choose to go unvaccinated, they're going to be vulnerable to getting infected through this delta wave."
The former FDA chief also noted that once flu season begins, there will be an influx of requests for tests from doctors to see if their patients have the flu or COVID-19, due to their similar symptoms.
"That's why it's so important to get diagnostic tests into the hands of consumers and doctors' offices as well, things like where people can test in the home will make a difference between telling between Covid and other respiratory infections, especially as the flu picks up," Gottlieb said.
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