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.