The former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) believes the COVID-19 pandemic could end by the beginning of next year.
In an appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Friday, Dr Scott Gottlieb said America is about to gain new tools to fight the disease in the form of antiviral pills from Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co.
Gottlieb said recent Covid workplace vaccine mandates implemented by President Joe Biden in workplaces may not even be necessary by the time they go into effect.
Starting January 4,, the mandate requires all companies with at least 100 employees to test weekly those who aren’t vaccinated.
‘These mandates that are going to be put in place by Jan. 4 really are coming on the tail end of this pandemic,’ Gottlieb told host Joe Kernen.
‘By January 4, this pandemic may well be over, at least as it relates to the United States after we get through this delta wave of infection. And we’ll be in a more endemic phase of this virus.’
Former FDA commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb said on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Friday that he believes the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. will end by January. Pictured: Gottlieb (right) speaks with host Joe Kernen
He heralded antiviral pills developed by Pfizer and Merck, which, when approved by the FDA, will be new tools to fight the pandemic. Pictured: Pfizer headquarters in New York City
Gottlieb said two recent pills that have been shown in clinical trials to treat COVID-19 will help bring about the end of the pandemic.
One the pills, manufactured by Pfizer Inc, has been shown to cut rates of hospitalization and death by nearly 90 percent.
The drugmaker’s candidate, which is called PF-07321332, belongs to a class of drugs known as protease inhibitors.
The pill would work by inhibiting an enzyme that the coronavirus uses to make copies of itself inside human cells.
Researchers announced clinical trial data on Friday that found just 0.8 percent of patients given the pill were hospitalized compared to seven percent of those given a placebo.
Additionally, there were no deaths in the treatment group and compared to 10, or 1.6 percent in the placebo group.
He adds, by next year, the U.S. won’t need Biden’s mandate requiring companies with at least 100 employees to get workers vaccinated or test them weekly. Pictured: Warron Lunde received his first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in Rancho Cucamonga, California, February 2021
And last month, Merck announced clinical trial results of its own experimental COVID-19 pill called molnupiravir.
The drug works by stopping the virus from making copies of itself, which prevents it from spreading throughout the body.
Results showed it can halve the chances of death or being hospitalized for those most at risk of contracting a severe case of Covid.
The study found 7.3 percent of the treatment group were either hospitalized or died at the end of 30 days, compared with 14.1 percent of those getting a dummy pill
On Thursday, molnupiravir received regulatory approval in the UK, the first country to green light the drug.
Pfizer said it plans to submit U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) soon while Merck’s drug will be discussed at an FDA meeting on November 30.
‘I think the bottom line is the end of the end of the pandemic as least as it relates to the United States, is in sight right now given all the tools we have to combat this disease,’ Gottlieb, who sits on the board of Pfizer, said.
He said that the U.S. ‘still [has] to get through this Delta wave’ with cases rising in some states as people head indoors for the cold winter months.
But he says that after the end of the wave, which should be in about two months, the virus should be an endemic disease – meaning always circulating in the population but at low rates.
‘I think that this therapeutic and the other innovations that we’ve seen coming to market really mark the end of the pandemic for the United States,’ Gottlieb said.
‘And we need to think how we put that victory sign on the side of the White House, and we declare victory over this pandemic, at least here in the United States.’