Dr. Anthony Fauci warned of the "enormous" death toll from the coronavirus if the United States were to try to achieve herd immunity before a vaccine is available. Herd immunity is reached when around 70% to 90% of a population becomes immune to a disease, either through vaccines or becoming resistant after getting infected.
"If everyone contracted it, even with the relatively high percentage of people without symptoms… a lot of people are going to die," Fauci said during a live Instagram session with actor Matthew McConaughey.
"You look at the United States of America with our epidemic of obesity, as it were. With the number of people with hypertension. With the number of people with diabetes. If everyone got infected, the death toll would be enormous and totally unacceptable."
Fauci said that is why health officials have been urging people to wear masks and social distance.
"And that's the reason why we're against saying, 'Let it fly. Let everybody get infected, and we'll be fine.' That's a bad idea."
Fauci's comments come after a grim forecast published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted that the number of deaths in the United States could top 200,000 by Labor Day.
"You can't run away from the numbers," Fauci said. "You can't run away from the numbers of people who've died, the number of people getting hospitalized, the surges we're seeing."
As of Friday (August 14), there were more than 5.2 million reported cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and more than 167,000 people have died.
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