President Donald Trump has promised a “conclusive” report on the US investigation into Chinas handling of the coronavirus outbreak and he once against revised projections for US toll, which he said, could now hit 100,000.
“We’re going to be giving a very strong report as to exactly what we think happened. And I think it will be very conclusive,” Trump said a “virtual town hall” hosted Sunday by Fox News. “My opinion is they made a mistake. They tried to cover it, they tried to put it out., just like a fire.”
The US has disputed the Chinese version of the origin of Covid-19 — from a meats and fresh produce market in Wuhan — and alleged it started instead at a virology lab in the same city. And it has also accused Beijing of delaying alerting the rest of the world and of suppressing the true extent of its epidemic.
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo has said the US has “enormous evidence” of the outbreak began at the Wuhan lab. He has not shared any evidence, and neither has any US official thus far, despite continued and rising rhetoric against China, with threats of punitive measures, including making China pay for it.
China has dismissed these allegations and called them last Thursday an effort by the Trump administration to “shift their own responsibility for the poor handling of the epidemic”.
The Trump administration has indeed faced questions about its response to the epidemic, essentially for squandering time gained by the earlyFebruary ban on travelers from China. The president has pushed back and insisted he was, in fact, ahead of the curve, citing the same travel restrictions.
At the Fox New town hall, the president sought to shift the blame somewhat on to Anthony Fauci, a top epidemiologist and member of the president’s task force on the outbreak — “everybody, even Tony Fauci, was saying it’s going to pass, not going to be a big deal”.
It did not. And the United States has borne the brunt of the pandemic with 1.15 million confirmed and reported infections till Monday morning, a third of the cases worldwide; and 67,710 fatalities, close to a quarter or the global toll. The US numbers went up in the last 24 hours 25,501 infections and 1,313 deaths.
President Trump said the town hall he fears the fatalities will go up further, revising upwards his earlier assessments. “We’re going to lose anywhere from 75-, 80- to 100,000 people,” Trump said. “That’s a horrible thing. We shouldn’t lose one person over this. This should’ve been stopped in China.”
The president had last week that the toll will “hopefully” wind up under 100,000, changing his earlier assessments of 240,000 way back in March before issuing lockdown guidelines to 60,000 and 70,000 in recent days and weeks, as he has sought to frame the reducing numbers as an achievement.
Without the mitigation measures ordered by him the numbers would have been far higher, he has argued.
Even at 100,000, his new projection, is way in excess of the 72,433 Covid-19 deaths projected by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), whose modeling and numbers have been cited often by the Whit House. The IHME projected number if for August, at the current levels of mitigation.
With many states rolling back restrictions and reopening some businesses, with the very public backing of the president, experts fear a resurgence, specially those that ignore the federal reopening guidelines and and end up “leapfrogging” conditions laid down for graduating from one phase to another.