Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that the coronavirus outbreak in the US is “most comparable” to Italy, informing grim death toll forecasts.
Pence said in a CNN interview that White House projections of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths were guided by data from Italy, the first Western nation with a large outbreak.
“They call it modeling … where they look at what’s happened around the world,” Pence said. “We think Italy may be the most comparable area to the United States at this point.”
In February, Italy became the first European country with a large number of COVID-19 cases. Lockdowns of towns in northern Italy failed to prevent a large-scale outbreak, with more than 105,000 cases and more than 12,000 deaths as of Wednesday.
Many US states closed non-essential businesses last month, replicating policies that Italy imposed nationwide.
The US has roughly five times as many people as Italy and leads the world with 190,000 coronavirus diagnoses and more than 4,100 deaths.
At a Tuesday night press conference, White House coronavirus task force members unveiled projections of a US death toll ranging from 100,000 to 240,000 even if social distancing guidelines are maintained.
Without strict efforts to control the virus or compliance with the federal guidance, the number of American coronavirus fatalities could reach a staggering 2.2 million, according to models presented by task force experts Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx.
Drs. Fauci and Birx outlined different trend lines for states, however, noting that currently New York and New Jersey have disproportionately large outbreaks per capita, and that preventing surges elsewhere could influence the final death toll.
“Our message yesterday, our message over the next 30 days, is the future is in our hands,” Pence said on CNN.