During a press conference on Thursday, President Donald Trump expressed hope that the coronavirus strain known as COVID-19 will ultimately disappear on its own.
Yet as far as one health official is concerned, the U.S. should prepare for the worst possible scenario, saying we should expect to see “many more cases” of coronavirus in the U.S. as the disease spreads around the world.
“Unlikely to disappear next year”
Dr. Anthony Fauci says that a quick end to COVID-19 isn’t something that we can count on. Fauci heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and on Friday he spoke to congressional representatives in a closed hearing.
According to Reuters, Fauci “told lawmakers that the coronavirus that is spreading globally is unlikely to disappear next year and that many more cases should be expected in the United States.” Fauci also reportedly informed Congress “that the United States currently does not have enough coronavirus testing resources.”
There is precedent for a deadly outbreak slowing down on its own. A century ago, the Spanish Flu pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people around the globe — more than double the total number lost on all sides in the First World War.
The pandemic came to an abrupt end in the summer of 1919, by which point most of those who were infected had either died or developed an immunity.
No reason to panic
In another press conference Saturday, Trump acknowledged that more cases are “likely” but touted the administration for “taking the most aggressive actions” of “any country” to combat the spread of coronavirus.
He urged Americans not to panic and said that the White House coronavirus task force is working round the clock to respond to the virus. “There’s no reason to panic,” Trump said.
The majority of COVID-19 cases continue to be found in China, but the disease is quickly spreading in other parts of the world.
One nation which has been particularly hard-hit is Iran. There, government officials put the current death toll at 43, but many say the real number is far higher. A BBC report released on Friday quoted sources as saying the real number was as high as 210 deaths as of Thursday night.
Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi tested positive for the illness last week after looking visibly sick during a television appearance. In response to the contagion, Iran’s government has closed schools and limited public gatherings, including for religious services.
The first death from coronavirus in the U.S. was confirmed Saturday in Washington state. The victim was a “man in his 50s who had underlying health conditions,” NBC News reported.