When the White House projected this week that 100,000 to 240,000 would die from coronavirus, the leading disease experts whose research the White House relied on were baffled at how they came to the figure, the Washington Post reports.
Now, White House officials are refusing to release the data they used to generate the figure. Speaking to the Post, three White House officials familiar with the matter say there have been “fierce debates” inside the White House about the number’s accuracy.
At a task force meeting this week, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said that there are too many variables at play for the numbers to be reliable. “I’ve looked at all the models,” he reportedly said. “I’ve spent a lot of time on the models. They don’t tell you anything. You can’t really rely upon models.”
Also voicing doubts about the number’s accuracy were Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and some in Vice President’s Mike Pence’s office.
Leading epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch said that the process of coming to the number seems to have been a rushed affair.
“They contacted us, I think, on a Tuesday a week ago, and asked for answers and feedback by Thursday, basically 24 hours,” he said. “My initial response was we can’t do it that fast. But we ended up providing them some numbers responding to very specific scenarios.”
Read the full report over at The Washington Post.