By the top of the 12 months, as much as 30% of People could possibly be contaminated with coronavirus, says Dr. Scott Gottlieb
Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Monday that by the end of 2020, nearly a third of US citizens could ultimately be infected with the coronavirus.
The significant levels of previous infections are likely to have an impact on coronavirus transmission in 2021 if there is potential for Covid-19 vaccines to be deployed across the country, according to the former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
“We’ll probably infect 30% of the US population by the end of this year,” Gottlieb told Squawk Box. The country has around 330 million inhabitants. “You see states like North Dakota and South Dakota, it’s probably 30%, 35%. Maybe even 50%,” he added.
According to the Johns Hopkins University, there are around 13.4 million confirmed coronavirus infections in America this year. New daily US cases recently hit a daily record of around 200,000.
However, throughout the pandemic, Gottlieb has stressed that the actual number of infections is likely to be higher because not everyone who contracts the virus will be tested and ultimately diagnosed. For example, in early November, when the country’s daily cases were 121,000, Gottlieb suggested that the actual number of cases was much higher.
“We are currently diagnosing at best 1 in 5 cases, maybe a little less. So that’s at least half a million cases a day, probably more in relation to the actual number of infections,” said Gottlieb November 6.
The nation’s Covid-19 outbreak has intensified since those comments. According to a CNBC analysis of Hopkins data, the 7-day average of new coronavirus cases in the country is nearly 162,400. While this is down nearly 5% from a week ago, inconsistent data reports due to Thanksgiving make the numbers difficult to interpret.
Still, Gottlieb said the scale of the coronavirus outbreak later in 2020 could help limit the spread of the virus early next year when vaccinations begin. Gottlieb is on the board of directors of Pfizer, the first company to file with the FDA for emergency approval for its Covid-19 vaccine. His comments came before Moderna announced its intention to seek the same approval on Monday after new data were released confirming the vaccine was more than 94% effective and safe.
“They combine a lot of infections across the country with vaccinating 20% of the population [and] You will reach a level where this virus will no longer circulate as quickly once you reach that level of previous immunity, “Gottlieb said.
Earlier this month, Gottlieb urged Americans to take coronavirus precautions seriously during the holiday season. He said the country is facing “really one last wave of infections” and “I think 2021 will be better”. He added, “We have to get through the next two or three months and this is really going to be a temporary pain.”
– CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this report.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC employee and a member of the boards of directors of Pfizer, the genetic testing startup Tempus, and the biotech company Illumina. Gottlieb is also co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean’s Healthy Sail Panel.