Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and one of the most prominent members of the president’s Coronavirus Task Force, said millions of Americans are likely to become infected with the coronavirus, with the death toll potentially reaching between 100,000 to 200,000 people.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned against predicting firm outcomes in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, but said models showing millions of deaths in the U.S. were “almost certainly … off the chart.”
“Whenever the models come in, they give a worst-case scenario and a best-case scenario. Generally, the reality is somewhere in the middle,” he said. “I’ve never seen a model of the diseases that I’ve dealt with where the worst case scenario actually came out.”
Still, he said his best estimate of the number of deaths would be at least 100,000.
“It’s difficult to present, I mean, looking at what we’re seeing now, you know, I would say between 100 and 200,000 cases. But I don’t want to be held to that, because it’s — excuse me, deaths,” he said. “I mean, we’re going to have millions of cases.”
Fauci, who has been one of the most vocal proponents of severe restrictions to combat the spread of the virus, said models are only “as accurate as your assumptions.”
“I just don’t think that we really need to make a projection when it’s such a moving target that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people,” he told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “What we do know, Jake, is that we’ve got a serious problem in New York. We have a serious problem in New Orleans, and we’re going to be developing serious problems in other areas.”