The “pandemic phase” of the coronavirus outbreak may be nearing its conclusion, according to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

Gottlieb said in an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” this week that there are two major factors that might end the pandemic soon.

  1. The COVID-19 vaccine being approved for children — Pfizer recently asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve the coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5-11.
  2. Merck’s antiviral pill being approved by regulators — The drug made headlines last week because the pill can ease coronavirus symptoms, almost like Tamiflu does with the flu.
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Gottlieb said the delta variant may pose a threat to many this fall and winter. But if it moves quickly enough through the country, the last big coronavirus wave could be wrapped up by Thanksgiving.

  • “I think those two things are going to be the bookend on the pandemic phase of this virus and we’re going to be entering the more endemic phase, when this becomes an omnipresent risk but don’t represent the extreme risk that it represents right now,” Gottlieb told CNBC.

Indeed, Gottlieb has been pointing toward Thanksgiving as a potential endpoint for awhile now. He said recently that close to 90% of the United States will have some form of COVID-19 immunity by Thanksgiving, either through the vaccine or natural infection. That level of immunity might be enough to end the pandemic, he said.

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The coronavirus may never really be gone, he said, but the virus may not be as prevalent in our lives.

  • “On the back end of this, you’re going to have so much immunity in the population that the virus isn’t going away — I don’t think we’re going to reach true herd immunity where this just disappears — but it’s certainly not going spread at the kind of levels we’re seeing right now,” Gottlieb told CNBC. “The prevalence will decline.”