Former FDA Chief Gottlieb: COVID Cases Will Drop Sharply Soon

Former FDA Chief Gottlieb: COVID Cases Will Drop Sharply Soon scott gottlieb sits at table with hand folded Then-FDA Commissioner-designate Scott Gottlieb testifies during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on April 5, 2017 at on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Monday, 19 April 2021 01:44 PM

The coronavirus pandemic will "roll over" in the United States in upcoming weeks, with new cases dropping significantly, but the virus will never be completely eliminated, former Food and Drug Administration chairman Scott Gottlieb said Monday.

Part of the reason for the rollback is because of a "seasonal backstop" with warmer months coming and more people getting outside, the doctor, a CNBC contributor, said on "Squawk Box." "We will see some increase in parts of the country, but you will see cases come down as we get into May, partially as a result of the seasonal backstop, the fact we are getting into the warm months and people are getting outside," the doctor said, but the growing vaccination rate will be the larger factor in the slowing numbers.

His comments come as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that more than half of all Americans have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and as eligibility for the shots opens for all people ages 16 and older.

The city of San Francisco is a good indication of the effectiveness of the vaccines, said Gottlieb, as 62% of adults over the age of 16 have had at least 1 shot and 40% are fully vaccinated, and the metro area is recording 30 new case infections a day.

"It is a function of warming weather there and also the high vaccination rates," Gottlieb said.

Continued vaccine hesitancy, though, will make it unlikely COVID-19 will be completely eradicated like other viral diseases such as polio and smallpox have been.

Gottlieb, who serves on the board of Pfizer, one of the three vaccine makers, also said he thinks a pause was enacted against the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine too quickly. The Food and Drug Administration paused the vaccine because of cases of rare, but severe, blood clotting issues.

"I think this would have been better handled inside the FDA, and if the FDA needed to seek outside advice from the (advisory) committee, they could have gone through that to oversee safety," said Gottlieb. "The agency wanted some role for itself and adjudicating this question this complexity has slowed down the process."

There will be a "better picture" of the situation on Friday when the matter is presented before the CDC, said Gottlieb.

"One thing that was getting patients in trouble was they were treated with a blood thinner that exacerbated with the blood clots," he said.

He added that he expects a decision will be reached to bring back the vaccine, most likely with additional warnings about what doctors should watch for and how to appropriately treat the blood clots if they do occur.

Meanwhile, the seven-day average of new coronavirus cases was down slightly on Monday from one week ago to about 67,400, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. However, the figure still represents an increase from the levels seen in late March, and is comparable with the surge of the disease last summer.

However, deaths from the disease were down 25%, with a seven-day average of new deaths at 723.