A senior US scientist issued a cautious prediction Sunday that the novel coronavirus could claim 100,000 to 200,000 lives in the United States.
A NYPD officer patrols Times Square as rain falls on March 28, 2020 in New York City. (Photo: AFP)
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who leads research into infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, told CNN that models predicting a million or more deaths were "almost certainly off the chart."
"It's not impossible, but very, very unlikely."
He offered a rough estimate of 100,000 to 200,000 deaths and "millions of cases."
But Fauci, a leading member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, quickly added, "I don't want to be held to that ... It's such a moving target that you can so easily be wrong and mislead people."
Asked about the persistent shortage of tests for the COVID-19 disease, he struck a slightly more optimistic tone, saying, "If you compare a couple of weeks ago to where we are right now, we have an amazingly larger number of tests than we had."
Asked how soon the wider availability of testing might allow a lifting of travel and work restrictions, Fauci said, "It's going to be a matter of weeks. It's not going to be tomorrow and it's certainly not going to be next week. It's going to be a little bit more than that."