Anthony Fauci’s Prognosis: Coronavirus Likely To Be Bad, But Not “Really Bad”

Joyce Boghosian/White House/Planet Pix via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is perhaps the one person that virtually everyone trusts to give us the straight dope on the coronavirus epidemic. He is, for example, the only guy who has the backbone—and the credibility—to stand up to President Trump and persist in telling him the bald truth about how long it will take to produce a vaccine (a year to a year and a half, in case you’re curious).

So what’s his prognosis?

“I don’t think that we are going to get out of this completely unscathed,” he said. “I think that this is going to be one of those things we look back on and say boy, that was bad.

….“It could be really, really bad. I don’t think it’s gonna be, because I think we’d be able to do the kind of mitigation. It could be mild. I don’t think it’s going to be that mild either. It’s really going to depend on how we mobilize.”

This is not a firm prognosis, but that’s natural considering the current state of our knowledge. In a nutshell, Fauci thinks the coronavirus outbreak isn’t going to be mild and isn’t going to be “really, really” bad. It’s most likely to be in the range of normal badness.

That’s a little hard to parse, I admit, but I’d interpret it as: the government needs to get its shit together; people need to take sensible precautions; but it’s not so horrible that anyone needs to panic.¹ Wash your hands a lot and maybe lay in a little extra supply of essential medications. But you really don’t need to stock up on bottled water and canned goods. Be prudent but not panicky.

¹Except perhaps for the elderly. If you’re over 70—and definitely if you’re over 80—coronavirus seems to be very, very dangerous. You really want to take fairly strong steps to keep from getting it.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate