Coronavirus: Fauci says US death toll may be even higher than believed, contradicting Trump

Leading infectious disease expert warns of a 'resurgence' in the fall if testing and tracing capabilities are not significantly ramped up

Chris Riotta
New York
Tuesday 12 May 2020 17:23 BST
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Eight Covid-19 vaccines being worked on and could be available by 'late fall,' Fauci says during testimony

The death toll for the coronavirus pandemic in the US may be even higher than the current estimates, according to the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and member of the White House coronavirus task force.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a Senate health committee on Tuesday afternoon “the number [of Covid-19 deaths] is likely higher” than the official count as reported by the Centre for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

The doctor’s remarks contradicted those of President Donald Trump, who has reportedly questioned the accuracy of the coronavirus death toll and complained about the way the estimates were being calculated in conversations with his senior aides.

Dr Fauci also warned “the consequences could be really serious” if states lift stay-at-home guidelines too quickly while failing to adhere to guidelines put forward by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"There is no doubt, even under the best of circumstances, when you pull back on mitigation you will see some cases appear", he said.

Mr Trump has meanwhile encouraged states to begin reopening in an apparent effort to restart the country’s badly shaken economy, which has seen the unemployment rate soar to 14.6 percent and many industries grind to a halt as workers were furloughed or let go due to lockdown orders.

Health experts have long predicted the actual coronavirus death toll was likely higher than the reported estimates, citing significant issues the federal government faced in distributing testing kits for Covid-19 across the country during the initial months of the outbreak.

More than 81,000 people have died due to complications resulting from the novel virus, according to the latest estimates published by Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.38 million people living in the US have contracted coronavirus.

At least 17 states have not met those CDC requirements, according to an analysis conducted by the Associated Press. However, many of those are either in the process of or preparing to reopen, including Alabama, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma and more.

Dr Fauci also said on Tuesday the country will “run the risk of a resurgence” if adequate testing and tracing capabilities are not in place by the fall and states continue to reopen businesses to the public.

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