The United States could see “staggering” numbers of coronavirus deaths in the coming months as infection rates increase during the colder months, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” on Friday.
There were 916 deaths from Covid-19 in the U.S. on Friday, according to data compiled by the Covid Tracking Project, an independent volunteer organization launched by journalists at The Atlantic. New coronavirus cases eclipsed 71,600 on Thursday.
Gottlieb, a physician who served as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner, emphasized that doctors have improved their treatment of Covid-19 patients during the pandemic, bringing down the mortality rate. He has said it might have been reduced by 50%.
Patient care also has been improved due to drugs such as Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir, which on Thursday became an FDA-approved treatment for Covid-19, as well as the use of steroids such as dexamethasone, according to Gottlieb. President Donald Trump received both after his coronavirus diagnosis.
Despite these positive developments, Gottlieb said the challenge the U.S. is facing now is simply how widespread the virus is across the country. “Mortality is going to be down, but we’re going to be infecting so many people that the daily death statistics are going to be staggering,” said Gottlieb, who led the FDA under Trump from May 2017 to April 2019.
There could be “well above 1,000” new deaths per day reported in the weeks ahead, he said. “And we might retest some of the totals that we saw in the spring, when we were reporting 2,000 deaths a day related to this virus, just because of the sheer number of people we’re likely to infect heading into the winter right now.”
The U.S. has almost 8.5 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and at least 223,752 people have died, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Public health experts have been warning for months that colder weather during the fall and winter is likely to coincide with a resurgence of the coronavirus because people are spending more time indoors, where transmission can more easily occur.
The pandemic is intensifying in countries across the world, and some nations are on a “dangerous track,” the head of the World Health Organization warned Friday. “We are at a critical juncture in this pandemic, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Restrictions have again been implemented in parts of Europe, including an overnight curfew in regions of France, in an attempt to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Gottlieb said he believes the response in the U.S. to rising infection rates will be targeted interventions in hot-spot areas, rather than the lockdown orders that were issued in the early stages of the pandemic when inadequate testing regimes made it difficult to determine where transmission was happening.
“I think we’re going to bear a lot more infection … and the health-care system is going to have to bear the brunt of this burden, because I don’t think you have the popular will for stay-at-home orders or broad
Washington — Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, warned Sunday that the current wave of new coronavirus infections is likely to be the “biggest wave” the nation experiences before a vaccine.
“We’re going to have to endure this wave of spread right now,” Gottlieb said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” “And it’s probably likely to be the biggest wave that we endure without the benefit of a vaccinated population.”
There have been more than 8.1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, and the death toll is approaching 220,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalizations are rising in 42 states, and 45 states have expanding epidemics, Gottlieb said.
“There’s really no backstop against the spread that we’re seeing,” he said, adding that this is the “most difficult phase of this epidemic.”
Gottlieb said the current uptick in coronavirus infections is occurring as states have left measures in place to mitigate the spread of the virus, including requiring masks in public and indoors, encouraging social distancing and limiting the number of people in restaurants and bars.
“If we weren’t taking those steps, if people weren’t wearing masks generally and some states weren’t adhering to some mitigation tactics and we weren’t testing and tracing, then we’d have much worse spread,” he said.
The latest surge in coronavirus cases comes as millions prepare to go to the polls for early voting or to cast their ballots on November 3, though election officials are encouraging voters to vote by mail or develop a plan to ensure they can cast their votes safely.
Gottlieb said precautions are being taken at polling places and warned the “biggest risks” are settings where people are more comfortable and may let their guards down.
“When you talk to the governors about where the spread is occurring, it’s occurring in congregate settings where people feel more comfortable, a local Elks Club, a large family gathering,” he said.
While coronavirus infections are rising, President Trump has returned to the campaign trail, holding large rallies with thousands in attendance, many of whom have not worn masks. Mr. Trump himself was diagnosed with the coronavirus this month and spent three days being treated for COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Gottlieb said the actions from the Trump campaign are “problematic” and questioned what the strategy from the White House is to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
“They’ve come out against universal masking. They’ve come out against testing asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic people. They say testing should be reserved just to the vulnerable. They want businesses and schools reopened, as we all do, and they’re against targeted mitigation like closing restaurants,” Gottlieb said of the White House. “There was criticism of New York when New York kept the restaurants closed. So it begs the question, what is the strategy? And I think the