“This may be the last major wave of infection,” said Gottlieb, who served as the FDA commissioner from 2017 to 2019.
In an interview with CNN, Gottlieb predicted that the pandemic in the U.S. would transition from pandemic to endemic phase in the relatively near future.
Gottlieb did, however, suggest that the U.S. would see ongoing pockets of high caseloads as the Delta wave shifts from affecting predominantly Southern states to other regions. For example, Montana, Wyoming and West Virginia are current hot spots of infection.
Gottlieb also acknowledged that a new variant could potentially emerge that resists natural or vaccinated immunity.
The Delta wave, however, will likely dissipate by Thanksgiving in Gottlieb’s estimation.
COVID-19 cases have dipped 18% in the U.S. over the past two weeks.
“The virus isn’t going away, but prevalence levels will decline to a level that feels more manageable,” Gottlieb said.
The increase in respiratory cold and flu infections in the winter months will heighten demand for COVID-19 testing, he added, pointing out that the flu season could be mild as it was in 2020.
The natural tendency for people to spend more time indoors in the winter months could also exacerbate COVID-19 infection rates.
Nevertheless, Gottlieb surmised that approximately 80% of the U.S. public likely has some degree of immunity against the novel coronavirus, whether from vaccines or natural infection. That level could increase to 90% by the winter, he predicted.
Vaccination could be available to more children in the coming months.
Pfizer will likely submit data to FDA for vaccines in children under 12 this week.