Dr. Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday he hoped the U.S. would be out of the coronavirus pandemic by early next year, but warned against easing public health strategies.
"When we get into 2021 we will have enough exposure in the general population, enough awareness, people will take permanent precautions for a period of time and hopefully get a vaccine that we can get sometime in spring 2021." that's behind us, "Gottlieb said on CNBC's" Squawk Box ".
Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under President Donald Trump, emphasized that his forecast is not a guarantee and depends in part on actions by the American public.
"I think it will depend on people just maintaining a certain level of vigilance with masks and other simple measures they can take to reduce their risk of spreading into the fall and winter," said Gottlieb, who im Pfizer is on the board of directors and is developing a vaccine against Covid-19. "There is a real risk that you will see spikes in some cases as we enter fall and winter, but I think this is really a 2020 event."
Gottlieb's comments come because new daily infections in the US continue to show signs of declining after a summer surge in cases that were common across the country, particularly the American South and West. However, according to the Covid Tracking Project, there were again over 1,000 deaths on Tuesday, lagging behind new cases.
In the United States, nearly 5.8 million cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed and at least 178,533 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
As the US enters the fall, Gottlieb expects the public health response to be supported by further advances in tests for Covid-19 that can produce results quickly. Comparing this type of screening to pregnancy tests, he said people would put a swab of liquid – saliva or a nasal swab – on a piece of paper and, within 10 to 15 minutes, "they'll know if you have" or not Covid. "
"I think we'll see these tests hit the market. They'll be available in significant quantities, give quick results, and be pretty reliable," he said, adding that these tests "change the equation by going allow more tests in workplaces and schools.
"I think things are going to change very quickly, what we have at our disposal, the technology to counteract that," he added.
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC employee and a member of the boards of directors of Pfizer, genetic testing startup Tempus, and biotech company Illumina. He is also co-chair of the Healthy Sail Panel of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Royal Caribbean. "