Dr. Scott Gottlieb is warning that the United States is about "a week away from seeing a rapid acceleration in cases” of Covid-19 as the number of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations surge.
In an interview on CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith" on Monday evening, the former FDA chief in the Trump administration said the country no longer has any pandemic backstops.
“The summer was a backstop, of sorts, to the spring surge, and we have no therapeutic backstop,” Gottlieb said. “The fall and winter season is when this coronavirus is going to want to spread.”
Echoing similar comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, Gottlieb said the holiday season and family gatherings are especially precarious for the spread of coronavirus because that’s when people let their guard down.
While noting he’s optimistic about vaccine trials, Gottlieb said the first patients given inoculations under emergency use, if it's granted, won't have protective immunity until early 2021.
“We can look to happier days, but these are going to be some tough months ahead,” he said.
With infection surges in the U.S. and Europe, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world topped 40 million on Monday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus and biotech company Illumina. Pfizer has a manufacturing agreement with Gilead for remdesivir. Gottlieb also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings′ and Royal Caribbean's "Healthy Sail Panel."