The coronavirus death toll in the U.S. could be “well short” of recent estimates from top health officials if social distancing measures are done properly, billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said Sunday.
Gates spoke as experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, predicted a deadly week for the U.S., warned the pandemic isn’t yet under control, and suggested it could take on a seasonal nature.
Members of President Donald Trump’s health team last week suggested between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths over the next two months from the coronavirus pandemic. Gates said that wasn’t inevitable.
“If we get the testing fixed, we get all 50 states involved, we’ll be below that. Of course, we’ll pay a huge economic price,” added Gates, whose net worth is $97 billion, according to the Bloomberg billionaires list, making him the world’s second-richest person.
On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Fauci joined Trump and Surgeon General Jerome Adams in predicting a rough week to two weeks for the U.S. as rising caseloads strain health resources in some areas and deaths continue to rise.
“This is going to be a bad week,” Fauci said. “Things are going to get bad and we need to be prepared for that. It is going to be shocking to some.”
Within a week or slightly more, the U.S. coronavirus curve should start to flatten, Fauci predicted.
Coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 324,000 on Sunday, the world’s highest, with more than 9,000 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.
Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said the U.S. still lacks an “all-hands-on-deck approach” to vaccine or treatment development for Covid-19.
Absent that, there’s little hope for a “V-shaped recovery” or for the economy to rebound to more than 80% of potential, Gottlieb said on CBS.
“We need to prepare for what it looks like when you have a slower economy and more people unemployed in the fall,” said Gottlieb, special partner at New Enterprise Associates, a venture capital firm that invests in the health-care and biotech sectors.
“It is fair to say things won’t go back to truly normal until we have a vaccine,” Gates said on Fox.
— With assistance by Naomi Nix
By Ros Krasny