July 27, 2021: On Monday, Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC that he expects growing U.S. coronavirus cases connected to the highly transmissible delta variant to start, which will decline in the coming two to three weeks, pointing to the U.K.’s decrease in infections evidence for what may play out in America.
England’s experience during the pandemic has been viewed as a precursor for the U.S. and the rest of the countries, offering insight into how new virus strains may spread later.
“I think the more observable trend is going on in the United Kingdom, where cases are coming down at this point. There’s an evident trend down. It seems like they’ve peaked,” Gottlieb said.
According to governments data, the U.K.’s seven-day average of new infections reached roughly 47,700 on July 18, following a steady increase beginning in late May. Cases have started to fall in recent days, with 29,173 being reported Sunday.
“If the U.K. is turning the corner, it’s a pretty good indication that maybe we’re further into this than we think and maybe we’re two or three weeks away from starting to see our plateau here in the United States,” said Gottlieb, who led the Food and Drug Administration commissioner from 2017 to 2019 in the Trump administration.
According to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data, the weekly average of new daily Covid infections in the U.S. is nearly 52,000. That’s up 61% from one week ago. As recently as July 5, the nation’s seven-day average of new daily infections was just below 12,000.
, the surging case count has U.S. health officials considering whether to recommend fully vaccinated people wear masks again.
“Our ascertainment, the percentage of people who are presenting for testing and getting recorded is quite low currently, so this infectious wave must be far more pervasive than what we’re detecting, meaning we’re further into it than what we believe,” Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb said that “the only challenge” to the U.S. beginning to see cases rollover in two to three weeks is that such a timeline coincides with when many students will be heading back to school.
“We’ll be turning a corner right at the point that schools start to reopen, and my concern is that schools reopening could cause sort of the second bump in cases, or could look like a pattern where you start to see a decline, and then it levels out because the reopening of the schools becomes a source of local transmission, and we don’t quite get out of it as quickly as we would’ve,” he said. “That remains to be seen.”