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Nov. 30, 2020, 12:27 p.m. EST

Almost a third of the U.S. could be infected by the coronavirus within a month, former FDA chief warns

By Shawn Langlois

That’s Dr. Scott Gottlieb sharing his pandemic outlook with CNBC in an interview on Monday as the number of coronavirus infections continue to spike. “You look at states like North Dakota and South Dakota, it’s probably 30%, 35%,” he added. “Maybe as high as 50%.”

New daily U.S. cases recently reached single-day records around 200,000, and, according to Johns Hopkins University , there are now about 13.4 million confirmed infections in America so far this year. Those figures are understating the actual number, according to Gottlieb, who said earlier this month “we’re probably, at best, diagnosing 1 in 5 cases right now, maybe a little bit less than that.”

Progress continues to be made on the vaccine front as multiple vaccine candidates show promising results. Moderna (NAS:MRNA) is just behind Pfizer  (NYS:PFE) and its German partner BioNTech  (NAS:BNTX) in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca  (NAS:AZN) .

Gottlieb, a board member at Pfizer, said the scale of the outbreak in 2020 could slow the spread of the virus early next year if vaccinations begin.

“You combine a lot of infection around the country with vaccinating 20% of the population [and] you’re getting to levels where this virus is not going to circulate as readily, once you get to those levels of prior immunity,” Gottlieb explained to CNBC.

For more, watch this clip from the interview:

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.