Former FDA chief predicts the Delta variant could be the last major COVID-19 surge in the US and be over by Thanksgiving

Scott Gottlieb
Dr. Scott Gottlieb is seen in this American Enterprise Institute photo released in Washington, DC, on March 10, 2017. American Enterprise Institute via Reuters
  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the Delta variant will likely be the last major surge of COVID-19 in the US.
  • The former FDA chief said on CNN Monday he expects the variant to run its course by Thanksgiving.
  • He also noted the importance of testing to differentiate between COVID-19 and other illnesses.
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The Delta wave of COVID-19 will be the last major surge the US sees in the pandemic and it will likely run its course by Thanksgiving, former FDA Chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb said on CNN Monday.

“I think on the back end of this Delta surge of infection around the country, after we get through this, this may be the last major wave of infection and we’re going to start to transition from the pandemic phase of this virus – at least here in the US – to a more endemic phase where the coronavirus becomes a persistent threat but you’re not seeing levels of infection quite the same way that you’ve seen them in the past year and a half,” he told host Pamela Brown.

Gottlieb explained that cases are falling nationwide because of sharp declines in the South where the Delta variant has “really run its course.” Now, the virus is surging in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest.

While some think the Northeast is impervious to a major Delta wave because of high vaccination rates and early exposures to the virus, Gottlieb disagrees, especially as kids return to school, people head back to in-person work, and the weather turns colder.

But Gottlieb said he expects the Delta variant to run its course by Thanksgiving.

“By Thanksgiving, you’ll see cases decline to a level that feels more manageable,” he predicted.

This fall and winter, people can expect to get sick more often from multiple pathogens, Gottlieb said. He highlighted the importance of COVID-19 testing for differentiating the coronavirus from other viruses and mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

Gottlieb’s predictions are in line with a new model of the virus’ spread from a group of North American university researchers. Their model predicts that the number of new cases per day will steadily drop from 117,000, the current average, to just 9,000 per day by March 2022. It also assumes parents will vaccinate their young children at approximately the same rate as teenagers once the FDA approves it for the age group.

Pfizer submitted its vaccination data for children ages 5 to 11 to the FDA on Tuesday. Armed with this new data, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, predicted the vaccine will be approved for young children by the end of October.

Nearly two-thirds of the entire US has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 vaccination tracker.