Story at a glance

  • Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned that there will never be a time when “zero” COVID-19 cases are reported, saying the U.S. is “always going to have some level of spread.”
  • But Gottlieb told CNBC that he does not envision a time where the country will report similar numbers of cases as seen early in the pandemic.
  • Gottlieb previously noted that areas with low vaccine rates are experiencing an uptick in new daily infections due to the highly infectious delta variant.

Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb warned that there will never be a time when “zero” COVID-19 cases are reported, saying the U.S. is “always going to have some level of spread.”  

But Gottlieb told CNBC that he does not envision a time where the country will report similar numbers of cases as seen early in the pandemic, although he expects “persistent infections” with the emergence of variants. 

“I don’t think we’re going to have a situation like we did last winter, where there’s 200,000 cases a day. I think we’re talking about tens of thousands of cases, perhaps, a day, here in the United States as it starts to take hold across the country,” Gottlieb said. 

The former FDA head continued that other parts of the world — pointing to Israel as an example — seeking to wholly eliminate new daily cases are not an appropriate comparison for what U.S. leaders are attempting to do. 

“Israel is a poor proxy in terms of what they’re doing relative to our situation here, because Israel is really going for a situation where they want zero [COVID-19],” Gottlieb added. “We’re not going to try to get this down to zero cases a day.” 


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Gottlieb previously noted that areas with low vaccine rates are experiencing an uptick in new daily infections due to the highly infectious delta variant, which Gottlieb said accounts for roughly 40 to 60 percent of new cases in the U.S.

“It doesn’t necessarily appear more pathogenic, meaning more dangerous, but it’s infecting people more easily and it’s starting to become prevalent in the U.K. in communities that are unvaccinated,” he said.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than 70,000 new cases have been reported in the U.S. over the last seven days. Meanwhile, approximately 66 percent of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and around 46 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. 


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Published on Jun 28, 2021