Trump administration surgeon general predicts 'winter surge' in COVID-19

Former Surgeon General Jerome AdamsJerome AdamsTrump administration surgeon general predicts 'winter surge' in COVID-19 Overnight Health Care — Biden urges parents to vaccinate children Trump surgeon general says he plans to vaccinate 11-year-old as soon as possible MORE predicted that there would be a “winter surge” of COVID-19 cases just as families expect to reconvene holiday gatherings in the coming weeks.

“It's no longer a matter of if we're going to have a winter surge, it's how bad it's going to be,” he told Greta Van Susteren in an interview to be aired on Sunday.

He argued that people had become “complacent” during the pandemic and warned Americans to be careful for the upcoming holiday season.

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“I'm using home testing. I was able to go around and get several home tests and the people who are coming to my house, they're going to be vaccinated and boosted. And if they're not, then I'm going to give them a rapid test to take before they come in to make sure we're doing everything we can to be able to gather safely,” Adams said.

Adams pointed to COVID-19 testing as an ongoing "deficit" in the handling of the pandemic, and suggested that government improvement in that area would be essential for managing the virus moving forward.

"We don't have a national testing strategy yet that I've seen articulated. And I don't mean this to pick on the new administration," he said. "I mean that we really do need to, if we're going to live with this virus, if we're going to shift from pandemic to endemic, have a well communicated, well agreed upon, and easily accessible national testing strategy so that we can quickly identify cases and contain them."

Van Susteren asked Adams how he would respond to those who are considering seeking an antiviral COVID-19 pill as an alternative to the vaccines. Both Merck and Pfizer have announced that they are seeking authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for oral COVID-19 treatments. 

“I'm really excited about the oral antivirals, but here's the caveats: Number one, the antivirals are worthless if you don't have testing,” Adams said, adding that “if you can't get tested, then you can't get treated.”

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“Number two, we would much rather prevent disease. This is public health. This is medicine 101. I'd rather prevent you from getting cancer than treat your cancer. I'd rather prevent you from getting diabetes than to treat your diabetes with insulin,” Adams said.

He continued, “And we would much rather prevent you from getting COVID in the first place than to let you get COVID in the hope that you're going to be in that percentage of people who gets tested in time, gets the pill in time. And for whom the pill works. That's a lot of ifs that have to happen for that to be successful.”

The interview comes weeks after children as young as 5 years old became eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, and amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed earlier this week that case numbers had increased 27 percent over the prior three weeks.

About 69 percent of the U.S. population is at least partially vaccinated and 59 percent fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.