After almost two years, the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is finally at hand in the US. That’s according to former FDA commissioner and Pfizer board member Dr. Scott Gottlieb. During an appearance Friday on CNBC’s morning program Squawk Box, Gottlieb shared his prediction for when COVID will end here. Meaning, when the pandemic will end, and the health crisis shifts to an endemic phase more along the lines of the flu.
His answer? By sometime in January. That’s because come January 4, vaccine requirements from the Biden administration for companies with at least 100 employees go into effect. Meanwhile, regulators in recent days also finally greenlit COVID-19 vaccines for kids aged 5-11. Also on Friday, President Biden said the US has secured millions of doses of a new antiviral pill from Pfizer that could be used to treat COVID-19. That experimental therapeutic has been shown to diminish the risk of COVID-related hospitalization or death by 89% in high-risk adults exposed to the virus, according to Pfizer.
When will COVID end? Pfizer board member has a guess
"This isn't in lieu of vaccination. We still need to try to vaccinate the public," says @ScottGottliebMD. "These mandates that are going to be put in place by January 4 are coming on the tail end of this pandemic. By January 4 this pandemic may well be over." pic.twitter.com/ziAxYVbTWN
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) November 5, 2021
The latest data for the US shows that more than 751,000 Americans have died since the outbreak of the pandemic. To put that in perspective, that’s more deaths than during any war the US has fought. Indeed, it will be a milestone of historic proportions to finally be able to put this pandemic behind us.
One of the main reasons for Gottlieb’s optimism stems in part from the employer vaccine mandate. Details of which the Biden administration finally shared in recent days.
In tandem with the vaccine deadline, companies must also start enforcing an indoor mask mandate for unvaccinated employees. The start date for that is December 5. Employees subject to that mask requirement must also start submitting weekly negative COVID tests after January 4 to even enter their place of work. Exceptions include people who work exclusively outdoors.
Mandates, COVID pill, vaccine for kids
About the Pfizer pill, meanwhile, Gottlieb added: “When you have therapeutics that are this effective, that can be a backstop for people for whom vaccines don’t work, people who have breakthrough infections — there’s pills being studied in that setting,” Gottlieb said. “It really is a backstop against death and disease from this infection.”
Speaking of death and disease? The latest data shows that average daily COVID cases are still in the 70,000-or-more range in the US. Some hospitals in certain parts of the country are also still getting crushed, and more than 1,000 Americans are dying from COVID every day.
However, more than 222 million Americans (almost 70% of the country) now have at least one COVID vaccine dose. The hope is that all of these things working together — drugs in development, vaccines for kids, and the employer mandate — are rapidly bringing this crisis to an end.