“I wouldn’t be surprised if, overall, we’re infecting up to a million people a day right now, and we’re only getting back maybe a tenth of that or less than a tenth of that.” said the former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration said in an interview on “Squawk Box.” Gottlieb now sits on the board of directors of vaccine maker Covid Pfizer.
The current seven-day average of daily new coronavirus cases in the United States is around 67,000, according to CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. This is up 53% from a week ago, as the country grapples with an increase in new infections largely due to the Delta, first discovered in India and now the dominant variant in India. United States
“What this reflects is a reality where you have a highly transmissible variant that is widespread in the United States right now that is spreading primarily in a population that is either vaccinated and develops mild symptoms or no symptoms; or spreads in a younger population who are also less likely to develop symptoms because they are younger, healthier, “said Gottlieb, interviewed by” Squawk Box “co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin, how the doctor arrived at his “staggering” estimate of 1 million new infections per day.
“Most of the spread and most of the people who come to the hospital are younger people. If this is where the infection is occurring, then there must be a lot more infection below the small numerator that appears in the hospital, ”added Gottlieb, who led the FDA from 2017 to 2019 in the Trump administration. He has become a closely watched voice during the pandemic, appearing regularly on CNBC and other media to offer his analysis on the health crisis.
The highest seven-day average of new Covid cases recorded in the United States was around 251,000 on January 8, according to CNBC analysis. The number of cases had dropped dramatically in the spring as the country’s vaccination campaign gathered pace.
But in recent weeks, as cases in the United States have started to accelerate again, Gottlieb said a large number of coronavirus infections likely went unreported, in part because the testing landscape is now different from that of the previous stages of the pandemic. At first, Gottlieb suggested that the actual number of cases was much higher than official tally due to scarcity of testing resources.
Now, he said it was a different situation, where the gap between the number of cases and the actual infection levels comes from people who remain asymptomatic or only develop mild symptoms that will not be tested. Additionally, Gottlieb previously said people at CNBC can now perform tests at home and those results are unlikely to reach health officials and then show up in the official tally of cases.
Gottlieb reiterated his view on Friday that the United States is much further along in the wave of infections caused by the delta than others realize. “This delta wave will pass, probably at some point in September,” he predicted.
– CNBC’s Nate Rattner contributed to this report.