▶ Watch Video: Gottlieb says U.S. “locking in” gains against COVID-19 as vaccinations continue

Washington — Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said the continuing COVID-19 vaccination effort should lead to a rapid decline in new infections in the coming weeks as more and more Americans become fully vaccinated against the virus.

“I think that right now the gains that we’re seeing across the country are locked in,” Gottlieb said Sunday on “Face the Nation.” “We’re entering warm months, when this is going to create a backstop against continued spread of the coronavirus. And so, we’re locking in these gains.”  

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 146 million Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, representing 44% of the total American population. More than 103 million Americans, or 31.2% of the country, are said to be fully vaccinated.

“This has been a monumental achievement, rolling out this vaccine, getting that many Americans vaccinated, and it’s going to continue,” Gottlieb said. “We’ll continue to chip away at it. The rate of vaccination is going to slow in the coming weeks, but we’ll continue to pick up more people as we get into the summer.”

Gottlieb predicted that Americans will be able to resume “something resembling normal activity” entering the summer months. He pointed to San Francisco as an example of how widespread vaccinations can dramatically slow the spread of the virus.

“About 71% of people in San Francisco have had at least one dose of vaccine. Forty-seven percent have been fully vaccinated there, recording about 20 cases a day,” Gottlieb explained. “They have about 20 people who have been hospitalized.”

The former FDA commissioner also said increased COVID-19 testing in New York City and a decline in hospitalizations should allow the city to reopen this summer, despite a still-high number of new cases. Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week that the city would fully reopen on July 1. 

“New York’s doing a lot of testing. New York’s leading the country really in testing. So they’re turning over a lot of their cases and we’re not even capturing all the negative tests. There’s a lot of testing going on at home now, with at-home tests that aren’t necessarily getting reported unless they’re positive cases,” Gottlieb said. “Hospitalizations are a pretty good indicator of where the direction is heading and they’re coming down as well. So, I think these gains are pretty sustainable at this point.”