Former FDA Commissioner Gottlieb: Pfizer Pill Means COVID Pandemic’s End ‘In Sight’

Former FDA Commissioner Gottlieb: Pfizer Pill Means COVID Pandemic's End 'In Sight' scott gottlieb speaks into handheld mic Former Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Dr. Scott Gottlieb speaks onstage on Aug. 06, 2021, in Seattle, Washington. ( Suzi Pratt/Getty Images for Norwegian Cruise Line)

By Charlie McCarthy | Friday, 05 November 2021 11:13 AM

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. is "in sight" following positive news concerning Pfizer's experimental antiviral pill.

Pfizer announced Friday that a trial of its pill to fight COVID-19 was stopped early due to overwhelming efficacy after the drug was shown to cut by 89% the chances of hospitalization or death for adults at risk of developing severe disease.

Gottlieb, a member of Pfizer's board, appeared on CNBC and said the pill will have a dramatic impact in fighting coronavirus.

"I think the bottom line is the end of the end of the pandemic‚ as least as it relates to the United States, is in sight right now — given that we have the tools to combat this disease," Gottlieb said on CNBC’s "Squawk Box."

"Now, we still have to get through this delta wave. Unfortunately, we’re not going to be able to vaccinate our way out of it. These therapeutics are coming too late to affect that wave of infection.

"But once we get through this delta wave of infection over the course of the next two months, I think this therapeutic and other innovations that we’ve seen coming to market really mark the end of the pandemic in the United States."

Gottlieb said people still will need to get vaccinated, as the pill will be a "backstop for people who have a breakthrough infection despite vaccination … people who don't respond well to vaccines and people who can't get vaccinated for whatever reason."

Gottlieb said President Joe Biden's vaccine mandates for federal employees and business with more than 100 employees are coming near the "tail end of this pandemic."

"By January 4, this pandemic may well be over, at least as it relates to the United States after we get through this delta wave of infection," he said.

Great Britain granted a conditional authorization to Merck's coronavirus antiviral, the first pill shown to successfully treat COVID-19.

The FDA has said it will ask its outside experts to meet Nov. 30 to scrutinize Merck's COVID pill. That means U.S. regulators almost certainly won't issue a decision on the drug until December.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.