Coronavirus could kill up to 1.7 million Americans, according to a terrifying projection by experts.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a closed-door meeting in February that included officials and international epidemic experts to discuss the health crisis.
One of the CDC's leading epidemiologists presented possible four scenarios – which were named A, B, C and D – to show how the virus could spread throughout the US population.
In each scenario, every person diagnosed with coronavirus is assumed to infect two to three people, the hospitalisation rate is either 3% or 12% and either 0.25% or 1% of all infected people die.
In the worst-case scenario, between 160 million and 214 million people would contract coronavirus – and up to 1.7 million would die.
But even in the best-case scenario, with interventions such as drive-through testing, a ban on public gatherings and barring visitors from nursing homes, up to three million Americans could still contract the virus.
The CDC calculated between 2.4 million and 21 million people in the US could become sick enough to need hospitalisation.
This could crush the nation's healthcare system, which has just 925,000 staffed hospital beds – and fewer than one in 10 of those are designed for the critically ill.
Other CDC meetings have discussed different effects of the virus such as its spread in international countries, the number of healthcare resources in supply like respirators and the effect that closing down schools will have.
"We're being very, very careful to make sure we have scientifically valid modelling that's drawing properly on the epidemic and what's known about the virus," epidemic expert Ira Longini told the New York Times.
"You can't win. If you overdo it, you panic everybody. If you under-do it, they get complacent. You have to be careful."
She said the scenarios were deemed valid until February 28, but their accuracy is "roughly the same" today.
More than 1,900 Americans have tested positive for the coronavirus so far, with 42 deaths.
President Donald Trump is currently awaiting the results of his own coronavirus test. He has declared a state of national emergency and issued a travel ban to and from all European countries including Britain and Ireland .
- Donald Trump
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