Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institutes of Health’s infectious diseases chief, on Sunday said it’s “possible” the nation would experience a reported “worst-case scenario” of up to 1.7 million deaths from the coronavirus outbreak.
In an interview with ABC News’ “This Week,” Fauci said the figure, as reported by the New York Times, of as many as 200,000 to 1.7 million people could die from the fast-spreading virus is “unlikely” if the nation does what it’s doing now.
The staggering death rate is “possible,” he said of the figures reported by the Times.
“A model’s only as good as the assumptions you put in there,” he said.
“It is unlikely if we do the kinds of things we’re outlining right now,” he said, adding: “I don’t think it’ll be that worst-case [scenario]. What we’re doing will have an effect.”
Fauci praised President Donald Trump’s “ decision to block travel from China… [and] other travel restrictions,” saying they allow the nation to have “containment and mitigation… [that] will keep us from that worst-case scenario.”
The straight-talking Fauci warned “it’s going to be a matter of several weeks to a few months for sure,” before Americans can “get back to normal.”
“You just need to look at China and South Korea right now,” he said.
“If you look at that bracket, all of that was a couple months, month and a half.”
He declared that “the duration depends on the …. containment and mitigation.”
But he said he’s confident the government “right now” is doing everything that can be done to contain the burgeoning outbreak in America.
“The dynamics and history is you’re never where you think you are,” he said. “You got to be overreacting almost to keep up with it.”
He conceded, however, that a 13,000 supply of ventilators for the critically ill “may not be enough… if we really have a lot of cases.”
“Things will get worse before they get better,” he said. “What we’re trying to make sure is we don’t get to the worse-case scenario.”
He also said about decisions to go into a “shutdown mode” on the local level must keep one thing in mind: protecting the elderly and those with underlying medical complications.
“What we should be doing is making it much much different,” he said.
“Right now people are taking things on their own,” he noted, but that “what we gotta do as much as possible … chill, slow down… we got to make sure the vulnerable ones are the ones we should try to protect.”
“The ones who should really not do be doing that [going to movies, restaurants, crowded places] are the vulnerable ones,” he said.
In a separate interview on NBC News' "Meet The Press," Fauci added "The elderly and those who have underlying conditions right now should really hunker down.
"The golden rule that I say is that, when you think you are doing too much, you are probably doing enough or not enough," he added. "Alright, that is the thing you got to do. Don’t want to be complacent. You always want to be ahead of the curve."
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