Coronavirus: Downward trend in virus infections ‘likely to continue’ former FDA head says

A drop in reported cases of the COVID-19 virus will likely continue, said Dr. Scott Gotlieb, the former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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Gottlieb, speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, said the decline in cases of those infected with the virus should continue because so many people have already contracted COVID-19 or are getting the coronavirus vaccine.

“I think we’re going to continue to see infection rates decline into the spring and the summer,” Gottlieb said. “Right now, they’re falling quite dramatically. I think these trends are likely to continue.”

The number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in the United States has reached more than 28 million, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Some researchers say that number does not represent an accurate portrait of the number of people who have actually been infected with the virus. According to a model created by researchers at Columbia University, the number of people who have been infected could be up to 10 times the number of cases reported.

Gottlieb said that, even with the COVID-19 variants that have begun emerging, ramped-up vaccination efforts and the fact the virus has infected so many people makes it unlikely the downward trend will be reversed.

“I think it’s too little, too late in most parts of the country,” Gottlieb said. “With rising vaccination rates and also the fact that we’ve infected about a third of the public, that’s enough protective immunity that we’re likely to see these trends continue.”

While Gottlieb said he doesn’t see infections trending upward, he says he also doesn’t see the virus going away.

“This isn’t going to be like measles or smallpox where it just sort of goes away,” Gottlieb said. “COVID is going to continue to circulate at a low level. Hopefully, we’ll continue to vaccinate the vulnerable population, so we’ll protect them from hospitalizations or severe illness and dying from this.”

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