Dr. Anthony Fauci, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director, warned against seeking to combat coronavirus through nationwide herd immunity and explained that the death toll would be "enormous and unacceptable."
The head of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force made the comments during a live Instagram session on Friday with actor Matthew McConaughey.
"If everyone contracted it, even with the relatively high percentage of people without symptoms," Fauci said, "a lot of people are going to die."
Fauci pointed to the prevalence of health issues among Americans that would result to large numbers of deaths if the coronavirus was spread widely.
"You look at the United States of America, with our epidemic of obesity, as it were. With the number of people with hypertension. With the number of people with diabetes. If everyone got infected, the death toll would be enormous and totally unacceptable," Fauci explained.
Lockdown versus herd immunity
Fauci is a proponent of the lockdown and social distancing model to combat the spread of the coronavirus. He has insisted that the best response to the pandemic is to await the development of vaccines and other treatments against the virus.
Some critics advocate for a different model where the virus is allowed to spread freely and infect people who would then become immune after recovery. While it would result in some deaths, the proponents say, the herd immunity model allows for the economy to continue operating.
One study by scientists at King's College London found that antibodies disappeared after a short period of time, meaning that herd immunity would not be a solution for the pandemic.
It's getting worse
Despite the U.S. adopting the lockdown model of combatting the coronavirus, there have been nearly 170,000 deaths and experts believe there will be tens of thousands more before the pandemic abates. There have been more than 5.3 million cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. alone, which accounts for one-fourth of all the cases worldwide.
On Thursday, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called for a nationwide mask mandate in order to quell what appears to be a second wave of the pandemic. The president responded by accusing "Sleepy Joe" of not trusting the states and their governors.
Here's more about the interview with Dr. Fauci:
Matthew McConaughey Interviews Dr. Fauci www.youtube.com