The true number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. is likely higher than the 80,000 deaths reported so far, the country’s top public health official says.
“Most of us feel that the number of deaths are likely higher than that number,” U.S. infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said, while downplaying concerns it might be 50-per-cent higher.
“There may have been people who died at home who did have COVID who were not counted as COVID,” the U.S. infectious diseases expert noted.
Fauci had also earlier said no vaccine would be available for use by the start of the upcoming school year, usually in August or September.
“Even at the top speed we are going, we don’t see a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school this term,” Fauci told a Senate committee Tuesday.
He said multiple clinical tests were ongoing, giving scientists a greater chance of success.
He still stood by his earlier assessment of a 12-18 month horizon for a vaccine, noting developments got under way back in January.
Meanwhile, New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S. has unveiled plans to start reopening its economy in some upstate regions on Friday.
However, New York City is unlikely to see nonessential business resume until June at the earliest.
“We’re now on the other side of the mountain,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday at his daily news briefing.