Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
The United States is having a “very bad week” during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. Anthony Fauci. But he also says that US public adoption of physical separation and other restrictions greatly reduces projections of the death toll from the respiratory virus.
The final balance sheet “currently looks more like 60,000 than 100,000-200,000” that US officials previously estimated, said Fauci.
Fauci, the leading US infectious disease expert and a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, also said that antibody tests have been developed and will be available “very soon”.
Fauci discussed COVID-19 and its results Thursday morning in a segment of NBC News Today.
“The number of deaths and the cases that we’re seeing right now really validate what we said, that it’s going to be a very bad week, on the one hand,” said Fauci. “On the other hand, as you can see, there are some glimmers of hope, especially when you look at the situation in New York – where the number of hospitalizations, the needs for intensive care and intubation at in recent days have actually stabilized and [are] begins to descend. ”
The new projection greatly undermines an estimate by Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, made just 11 days ago. In late March, he said that “between 100,000 and 200,000” people in the United States could die from COVID-19.
The figure of 60,000 is reflected in a new projection from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, or IHME, a research center at the University of Washington. The estimate predicts the death toll in the United States until the beginning of August; he also predicts that the number of deaths from COVID-19 will peak in this country on April 11.
The revised analysis comes as millions of Americans live under “shelter in place” and business closure orders that have contributed to massive job losses and other disruptions. The pandemic has left many people impatiently waiting for the virus to reach its peak.
COVID-19 has caused nearly 15,000 deaths in the United States and more than 430,000 people are infected with the virus, according to a COVID-19 dashboard created by the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, which reports figures in near real time. It also had a horrible impact on minority communities, especially African-Americans.
New York is the epicenter of COVID-19 in the United States, with more than 150,000 cases. Despite a recent spike in deaths there, Fauci said there were signs that the state was flattening the curve.
“I don’t want to jump the gun on this,” said Fauci, “but I think it is.”
He added: “I’m always very careful when I jump the gun and I say,” Well, we turned the corner. ” But I think we’re really looking at the start of this process, which would be really encouraging. We need it right now. ”
Another crucial question in the minds of many people is when they can get an antibody test, a blood test that can reveal whether someone may have had the new coronavirus without being diagnosed, either before the National alarm will not sound during the epidemic or during the delay in providing enough tests to meet demand.
“Antibody tests are developed, there are several,” said Fauci. “The people, the companies that make them tell us very soon – when they say soon, they are talking about days or weeks – that we could have a lot of these tests available.”
The tests will be important, said Fauci, because “there may be a lot of people out there, and I think there are a lot of them, who were infected, were asymptomatic and didn’t know it.”
Those infected will likely benefit from protection from the coronavirus in the future, he said, adding that further testing is needed to ensure this is the case with COVID-19.
“You can have a cohort of people who are truly protected, who are more likely to return to normal society,” said Fauci.
Such a test will be vital, he added, for healthcare workers who could do their job much better if they knew they were protected from the virus.
While welcoming the efforts of the American public to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Fauci also warned that it was not yet time to stop these measures.
“I think the American public has done a really great job just closing and doing this physical separation and following those guidelines,” said Fauci on Thursday. “But that being said, we had better be careful not to say” OK, we are doing so well that we could back off “. We still have to step on the gas with regard to physical attenuation and separation. “