How to count half a million lost lives?

Last March, amid the myriad upheavals and uncertainties that marked early pandemic life, various scientists and public health officials started to model out how many cases and deaths we might be looking at in the long run, and the press, unsurprisingly, took great interest in their work. A team at Imperial College, in London, concluded that the coronavirus could kill upwards of two million people in the US alone should it be allowed to spread unchecked. That number spread like wildfire in headlines (usually alongside the worst-case caveat). On March 29, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Dr. Anthony Fauci, a new household name, to lay down some predictions; Fauci replied that, with mitigation, the US was likely looking at between one- and two hundred thousand deaths, though he also stressed that such projections aren’t especially helpful. Later the same day, then-president Trump said that if deaths were to end up in the range that Fauci cited, it would mean that “we altogether have done a very good job.” The next morning, Dr. Deborah Birx went on Today and said that that range would apply even “if we do things almost perfectly”; the day after that, she raised the upper bound to two hundred and forty thousand deaths. The projection continued to drive coverage across the media, as did a debate about its reliability. Outside experts said they had no idea how the White House had arrived at its numbers, since it hadn’t published any underlying data. The White House said it wasn’t... Continue reading at 'Columbia Journalism Review'

[ Columbia Journalism Review | 2021-02-23 13:34:38 UTC ]
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