Fauci Confuses Tapper’s Virus Question, Clarifies US Could Have 200,000 Deaths, ‘Millions’ Of Cases

In news that nobody wants to hear, Anthony Fauci told CNN on Sunday that the US death toll from COVID-19 could reach 200,000 by the time the virus runs its course.

Speaking to Jake Tapper, Fauci was asked to provide an estimate for how many cases the US could ultimately see.

“You know Jake, to be honest with you, we don’t really have any firm idea”, Fauci conceded, adding that “there are things called models”.


Perhaps unsure of whether CNN’s viewers are aware of what these “things called models” do, Fauci elaborated.

“When someone creates a model, they put in various assumptions, and the model is only as accurate as your assumptions”, he mused, before attempting to allay public fears by saying that in all his years of modeling outbreaks, he’s never seen a situation where the worst case actually materialized.

“So when you say ‘a million and a half, two million’, that almost certainly is off the chart”, Fauci declared, before quickly noting that “it’s not impossible, but very, very unlikely”.

That seemed a bit strange. After all, the US has nearly 125,000 cases already. New York alone had 53,000 infections as of Sunday morning, according to Johns Hopkins data.

Then, Fauci “clarified”.

“Looking at what we’re seeing now, I would say between 100,000 and 200,000 cases, but I don’t want to be held to that — excuse me deaths“, he said, emphasizing the word. “We’re gonna have millions of cases”.

So, Tapper was by no means positing a number that was “off the chart” in his initial question to Fauci. Rather, Fauci misheard the question. Tapper was talking about total infections, and Fauci was talking about modeling total fatalities.

Ultimately, Fauci contended that “I just don’t think we need to make a projection because it’s such a moving target”.

“You could so easily be wrong, and mislead people”, he added.


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10 thoughts on “Fauci Confuses Tapper’s Virus Question, Clarifies US Could Have 200,000 Deaths, ‘Millions’ Of Cases

  1. There will be an increase in deaths from all causes once the medical system is overwhelmed. The next month or two will be an awful time to get into a car accident or have a heart attack/stroke. The only way we will be able to tell the real cost of life is by comparing 2020 data to the monthly averages of the 5 years prior. This is going to be catastrophic once our healthcare system runs out of supplies (including blood donations), PPE, staff, and beds.

    1. Right, it’s all about the overall monthly fatality delta, since system failure will also lead to otherwise preventable deaths. Still, they probably won’t classify the second order deaths in the official COVID-19 figures. We will start posting official daily death rates over 1,000 in the next few days (from people who fell ill 3-6 weeks ago), and are still progressing exponentially, so Fauci’s 200,000 total seems more like a best case scenario at this point.

  2. Why the heck use “Fauci confuses…” as your headline here, rather than the main message that there could a 200,000 case mortality??

    1. Do you not see 200,000 in the title? Because I see it in there. Also, the purpose of this site isn’t to maximize page views by writing the most sensationalistic titles possible. The purpose is to convey as much of what’s in the post as possible in the title so readers can make an informed decision about whether they want to spend their valuable time reading it. I am what you would call a “responsible” editor. It’s a rarity, I know.

  3. Dr Fauci is the expert. And he is of course right to assign low confidence both to his guess and models too. We don’t have experience with a modern day pandemic of this scale and cause, so at this point any number is at best an educated (Fauci) or uneducated (99.999% of all others) guess. The standard deviation of these numbers is incredibly wide. I am always dumbfounded when I see finance people opine on the likely course of this outbreak. It is a violation of an analyst’s credo to have a reasonable basis for an investment opinion- in this case an infection disease opinion. And once you admit your investment conclusion are based on a very hazy guess about the course of this outbreak, you are in the area of known/unkonwns and you are making a very speculative guess.

    1. I can understand wanting to focus on the short term problems and dynamic nature of the virus but I hope there is also some preparation based on the longer term modeled probabilities. Even if a weather model only shows a 20% chance of the hurricane hitting the nearby beaches, most people I know still drive out to the coast to board up the windows. In this interview Fauci seemed reluctant to rely on the models for anything actionable and quick to shift focus to the problems at hand. Maybe crisis mode management is all we’ve got.

  4. I give Dr. Fauci great credit for being a diplomat. Consider his greatest achievement: Getting Trump to change is attitude of denial regarding the severity of the pandemic, without getting fired or ignored.

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