May 13, 2020
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disesases (NIAID) testified before a Senate Health Committee on Tuesday, warning that the real number of U.S. deaths from the novel coronavirus is “almost certainly” even higher than the official death toll of 80,000 because of the likelihood that some deaths went unrecorded.
According to a report by The Hill, speaking from home where he is partially quarantined, Dr. Fauci said during the virtual hearing that, with health systems overwhelmed, it’s very likely a number of deaths were not recorded—meaning total deaths from the coronavirus across the country are likely higher than the already staggering toll of more than 80,000 now counted by Johns Hopkins University.
“Most of us feel that the number of deaths are likely higher than that number because given the situation particularly in New York City, when they were really strapped with a very serious challenge to their health care system, that there may have been people who died at home who were not counted as COVID because they never really got to the hospital,” Fauci said on a group video feed.
Dr. Fauci on Monday said he would tell the panel that there could be “needless suffering and death” if the country opens prematurely, but steered clear of that language during the early part of the hearing; instead saying, “the consequences could be really serious.”
Asked by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) if the real number of deaths could be even 50% higher than the official number of 80,000, Fauci said: “I think you are correct that the number is likely higher, I don’t know exactly what percent higher, but almost certainly it’s higher.”
The comments drive home how devastating the death toll from the virus has been in the United States.
The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield, also told senators that “we’re not out of the woods yet.” He noted, “This nation needs modern, highly capable data analytics. This is one of the many shortcomings that has been identified as we went through this outbreak.”
President Donald Trump has pushed for states to reopen and at times has encouraged people to defy governors’ orders.
Even going by the recorded number of 80,000, the U.S.A. by far leads the world in total deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data, although numbers from China have been cast in doubt. Following the United States, the United Kingdom has about 32,000 deaths, and Italy has about 30,000 deaths.
Research contact: @thehill