Top Health Official Says Coronavirus Worse than Flu: ‘We’ve Got to Face That Fact’

Monica Sanchez | March 15, 2020
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Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases which is one of the institutes that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said on Sunday that the coronavirus is worse than the flu and that America needs to “face that fact.”

Fauci explained on Fox News Sunday that the virus is worse than the flu for three reasons: it is brand new, it spreads very easily, and it is especially dangerous to the elderly and people with underlying conditions:

One, it’s brand new, so we don’t have any prior experience about what it’s gonna do, what its dynamic’s gonna be. Number 2, it spreads very easily, there’s no doubt about that. It isn’t like some of the other outbreaks that we had that just didn’t adapt itself to spread among humans. And Number 3, it’s very serious in the sense of morbidity and mortality, particularly among – and very heavily weighted – towards individuals who are more susceptible: the elderly and those with underlying conditions.

When asked by host Chris Wallace whether coronavirus was worse than the flu “in terms of contagiousness and lethality,” Fauci replied, “Well, yes, and I mean, it just is. And we’ve got to face that fact. We’ve got to be realistic.”

“Things are going to get worse before they get better,” he continued. “But, the kinds of things we’re doing now will hopefully mitigate that.”

Fauci was optimistic that the precautions that the U.S. are taking “in a very aggressive way of containment and mitigation” will not only “flatten” the trajectory of cases but “diminish” the timeframe that this outbreak would take place.

Precautions include advanced medical screenings at airports, travel restrictions, nationwide school closures, "social distancing," and so on.

However, “To think that right now, everything’s going to be ok if you don’t do anything, that’s absolutely incorrect. We have to really, always be ahead of the curve,” he explained.

Fauci added that he’d like the U.S. to be “criticized for being overreactive” in this case.

When asked whether the U.S. would have to go into complete lockdown like countries like Italy are right now, Fauci said that it was not likely.

"We feel that with rather stringent mitigation and containment without necessarily complete lockdown we’d be able to prevent ourselves from getting to where, unfortunately, Italy is now," he said.

Dr. Fauci warned against crowds and emphasized again social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.