Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned that the United States is only "at the beginning of the steep part of the epidemic" as the number of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations across the country break grim records.
In an interview on CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith" on Friday, the former FDA chief said, "You'll see cases start to accelerate into the coming weeks, I think the inflection point really is going to be Thanksgiving."
The U.S. hit 9 million confirmed cases of the virus on Friday, more than any other country. Thursday marked a single-day record by logging 90,456 new cases, according to the latest NBC News tally. For context, that is more than one new case every second. Gottlieb explained that this surge was more confluent across the entire country, as opposed to earlier this year when it was focused first in New York, and then, the South.
"The reason why it doesn't feel very bad in most parts of the country right now is because it's moderately bad everywhere," Gottlieb said.
In Illinois, cases have skyrocketed to more than 6,900 in one day, according to Johns Hopkins. It more than tripled the number of what was added one month ago and triggered new restrictions in Chicago. Starting Friday, bar and dining service was banned curb the spread of the virus.
Gottlieb told host Shepard Smith that the country could see an authorization for a vaccine for a high-risk population at some point this year, but he noted that "you're not going to have protective immunity until 2021, because you need two doses of the vaccine and it needs to be spread about a month apart."
For the general population, however, Gottlieb said he doesn't think there will be a licensed vaccine for broad use until the second or third quarter of 2021.
For more on Shepard Smith's interview with Dr. Scott Gottlieb, watch the full interview above.
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."