The coronavirus outbreak could eventually infect as many as 100 million people in the U.S. alone, unless severe countermeasures are taken quickly, according to Tom Bossert, who once held the Trump administration Homeland Security post that was in charge of coordinating response to pandemics.
Bossert, who said the 100 million figure was not a “prediction,” made his remarks appearing on the ABC’s This Week on Sunday. The clip was later posted on Twitter by Washington Post video editor Jim Rieger.
Bossert was in charge of bio-preparedness in the Trump White House, where he worked on a comprehensive strategy for preventing and responding to pandemics as well as potential biological weapons attacks by terrorists or hostile foreign countries. As The Washington Post reported, Bossert’s job was eliminated soon after Trump named John Bolton as National Security Adviser.
The position has not existed since his sudden departure.
“The potential for this virus has demonstrated that it can have a 30 percent attack rate,” Bossert told This Week host George Stephanopoulos. “If you apply that to the U.S. population, that would be 100 million people infected.”
He added that not all of those 100 million coronavirus-infected Americans would become sick with COVID-19, the illness resulting from the viral infection.
The former Trump administration health security official said the coronavirus could potentially become “way more significant than the flu.”
“When I hear people say we’re dealing with the flu or something like it I get awfully nervous,” Bossert said, adding that the coronavirus spreads at three-times the rate of the flu, and the fatality rate is 10 times greater.
In Italy, researchers now say that the virus was likely introduced by a visitor from a German auto-parts manufacturer, sometime in late January. In less than two months since the initial exposure to the virus, 366 people have died in Italy from coronavirus infections, and the number of confirmed cases of infection has sped past 7,300.
Starting this weekend, Italy has taken the aggressive measure of locking down large sections of the country’s northern regions, effectively quarantining 16 million people, shutting down schools, movie theaters, religious services, and even cancelling funerals.
Bossert, on his own Twitter account, has strongly pushed for similar “community interventions” in the U.S.
“We use these aggressive interventions a) where multiple cases of human-to-human transmission is confirmed, or where a [COVID-19] death is reported,” he wrote, adding that the aggressive measures also reduce “overall stress” on the health care system.
Bossert also wrote that the purpose of the aggressive measures that help slow the spread of the virus was for “the greater good of the entire community,” rather than simply to prevent individuals from contracting the coronavirus.