"Only now is the White House coming out of denial
and heading straight into saying it could not have
By Jake Johnson
March 17, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" - An alarming scientific report compiled by British
researchers and shared with the Trump White House
warns that, in the absence of drastic and
coordinated government action, the novel coronavirus
kill as many as 2.2 million people in the United
research (pdf), led by epidemiologist Dr. Neil
Ferguson and published Monday by the Imperial
College of London, shows that merely acting to slow
rather than completely stop the spread of COVID-19
would "still likely result in hundreds of thousands
of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive
care units) being overwhelmed many times over."
"For countries able to achieve it, this leaves
suppression as the preferred policy option," the
researchers wrote. "In the U.K. and U.S. context,
suppression will minimally require a combination of
social distancing of the entire population, home
isolation of cases, and household quarantine of
their family members. This may need to be
supplemented by school and university closures."
Successful suppression of the virus could take a
significant amount of time, the researchers
noted—"potentially 18 months or more."
The New York Times
reported late Monday that the researchers'
"terrifying" projection of as many as 2.2 million
possible deaths in the U.S. was shared with the
White House's coronavirus task force last week, when
President Donald Trump was still downplaying the
threat posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.
"We don't have a clear exit strategy," Ferguson
told the Times. "We're going to have to
suppress this virus—frankly, indefinitely—until we
have a vaccine. It's a difficult position for the
world to be in."
Ferguson likened the possible health impacts of
the COVID-19 pandemic to those caused by the 1918
influenza outbreak, which killed an estimated
675,000 people in the United States and tens of
millions more worldwide.
The team of researchers "also shared its fatality
estimates with the CDC," according to the Times,
"including that eight to nine percent of people in
the most vulnerable age group, 80 and older, could
die if infected."
During a press conference on Monday, Trump
falsely claimed that "nobody ever thought about"
the coronavirus threat a month ago.
"This is a bad one," said Trump, who on Sunday
recommended that people in the U.S. avoid
gathering with more than 10 people. "This is a very
bad one. This is bad in the sense that it's so
contagious. It's just so contagious. Sort of,
interview with CNN Sunday, Harvard
University epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch said
the coronavirus crisis "was foreseeable, and
foreseen, weeks and months ago."
"Only now is the White House coming out of
denial," said Lipsitch, "and heading straight into
saying it could not have been foreseen."
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