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 have to endure this wave of proliferation right now,” Gottlieb said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” “And it’s probably the biggest wave we’re enduring without the benefit of a vaccinated population.”
There have been more than 8.1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, and the number of deaths is approaching 220,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. Hospitalizations are rising in 42 states, and 45 states have expanding epidemics, Gottlieb said.
“There really is no backstop to the spread that we are seeing,”
Gottlieb said the current rise in coronavirus infections is occurring as states have left measures in place to reduce the spread of the virus, including requiring masks in public and indoors, encouraging social distance and limiting the number of people in restaurants and bars.
“If we did not take these steps, if people did not have masks in general, and some states did not follow some mitigation tactics, and we did not test and track, we would have much worse dispersion,” he said.
The latest rise in coronavirus cases comes as millions prepare to go to the polls for early voting or to cast their ballots on November 3, even though election officials are urging voters to vote by mail or develop a plan to ensure that they can cast their votes safely.
Gottlieb said precautions are being taken at polling stations, warning that the “biggest risks” are settings where people are more comfortable and may fail their guards.
“When you talk to the governors about where the spread is taking place, it happens in ward environments where people feel more comfortable, a local Elks Club, a big family reunion,” he said.
While coronavirus infections are on the rise, President Trump has done just thatto the campaign path, where large gatherings are held with thousands present, many of whom have not worn masks. Mr. Trump himself was diagnosed with coronavirus this month and spent three days being treated for COVID-19 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Gottlieb said the actions of the Trump campaign are “problematic” and questioned what the White House strategy is to combat the spread of coronavirus.
“They have come against universal masking. They have come against testing asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic people. They say testing should be reserved for the vulnerable only. They want companies and schools reopened, as we all do, and they are 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 that raises the question, what is the strategy? And I think the strategy is just to endure the spread until we get to that vaccine. “
However, it is unlikely that a coronavirus vaccine will be available to the general population until well into 2021.