“The epidemic is probably going to peak sometime in late April” before receding in the summer months and perhaps returning in the fall, he said. “Life’s never going to be perfectly normal until we get to a vaccine.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Trump administration announced this past week that the first trial through NIH of a vaccine was started out in Seattle. Given the timeline for this, do resources need to be refocused from a vaccine into some of the treatments that- that you are talking about?
DR. GOTTLIEB: I think absolutely. We could have a drug, a potential prophylactic drug that could prevent people from getting an infection or even treating infection as early as this summer, especially when you look at some of the approaches where companies are developing antibodies that directly target the virus. I think this is highly promising. We need to be putting a lot of resources into that. Senator Daines introduced a provision in Capitol Hill that may be included in the final package and what it would do is it would basically scale up manufacturing right away for the promising treatments that make it into the government’s sanction trials. So that if one ends up working, we’re ready to distribute it on a mass scale. You have literally millions of doses available. Now, what’s going to happen is a lot of those drugs won’t work and we’re going to end up throwing away the drug that we manufactured. But I think that’s a small price to pay for the benefit of having drug available, if in fact one proves that it’s working.
MARGARET BRENNAN: In other words, tax payers helping to subsidize some of this research immediately. When do you see us being able to plan about going back to normal life?
DR. GOTTLIEB: Well, I think it’s going to be a slow transition. I think that the epidemic right now that’s underway is probably going to peak sometime in April, probably late April and tail off into May and June and hopefully transmission will be broken off in July and August. We need to plan for what we’re going to do in the fall to prevent another epidemic and outbreak. But life’s never going to be perfectly normal till we get to a vaccine. We’re always going to have to implement some measures, but they could be case based measures where we look at individuals and screened very aggressively for the virus and quarantine and isolate individual people rather than quarantining mass populations. That’s what we need to get to. That’s going to be a transition but we can get there. There is light at the end of this tunnel.