In a July 18 interview on CBS’ Face the Nation, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration head Dr. Scott Gottlieb had grim and serious predictions for the impact of the delta variant of COVID-19 on the United States, noting its potential to spread and the severity of the illness it can cause.
Referring to people who are still unvaccinated, Gottlieb remarked, “This virus is so contagious, this variant is so contagious that it’s going to infect the majority—that most people will either get vaccinated or have been previously infected or they will get this delta variant,” according to a CBS News report.
“And for most people who get this delta variant,” he added, “it’s going to be the most serious virus that they get in their lifetime in terms of the risk of putting them in the hospital.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has noted that “this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” with case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths all rising as the delta variant continues its spread across the U.S.
Gottlieb also believes that the U.S. might actually have a greater problem than the numbers are showing, noting that a number of people—particularly younger people—aren’t getting COVID-19 tests.
“We’re not doing a lot of routine screening right now,” he said. “Unless you work for the New York Yankees, you’re not getting tested on a regular basis. So I think that this delta wave could be far more advanced than what we’re detecting right now in our ascertainment.”
Gottlieb also appeared on CNBC, where he noted, “We don’t know what the denominator is right now. I think we’re vastly underestimating the level of delta spread right now because I think people who are vaccinated, who might develop some mild symptoms or might develop a breakthrough case, by and large are not going out and getting tested. If you’ve been vaccinated and you develop a mild cold right now, you don’t think you have COVID.”
CNBC noted that the seven-day average of new daily infections stood at 26,448 on July 16, up 67% from just a week prior, with the weekly average of new daily deaths up 26% in that same timeframe.
Gottlieb estimated the U.S. is only picking up one in about every 10-20 infections, with those getting tested for COVID-19 either being sicker or exhibiting so-called “telltale” symptoms of the coronavirus, such as a loss of taste or smell.
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