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CNN’s Sanjay Gupta: “Every Life Is A Life, What Is The Trade-off In Terms Of Starting To Reopen Things?”

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CNN’s Sanjay Gupta condemns FOX News medical pundit Dr. Mehmet Oz for suggesting that states consider reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic after estimating that it would only result in a 1% increase in the total death rate. “I think this is what he meant,” Gupta said. “The models suggest that maybe some 60,000 people will lose their lives, sadly, to this disease… The closing of schools, they say, may be contributing only to 2 to 3 percent of that. So that, as you point out, Jake, would be about 1,200 to 1,800 people potentially, again, not children, but people within the country.” “Every life is a life,” he said. “And I’m sure Dr. Oz thought about that before he said that, but that is obviously a big one.” Dr. Oz has apologized for the remark, saying he misspoke:

DR. MEHMET OZ, “THE DR. OZ SHOW”: Let’s start with things that are really critical to the nation, where we think we might be able to open without getting into a lot of trouble. I tell you, schools are a very appetizing opportunity. I just saw a nice piece in “The Lancet” arguing that the opening of schools may only cost us 2 to 3 percent in terms of total mortality. And that’s — any life is a life lost, but to get every child back into a school where they’re safely being educated, being fed, and making the most out of their lives, with a theoretical risk on the backside, it might be a trade-off some folks would consider. CNN, JAKE TAPPER: All right, so Dr. Oz is basically saying there — I don’t think he was referring to — because I looked at “The Lancet” — and I don’t think he’s saying — talking about 2 to 3 percent mortality for the entire country, which would, of course, be millions and millions of people. I think he’s talking about this one “Lancet” study that talks about how the — that closing schools only reduced deaths 2 to 4 percent. But that’s still theoretically thousands of lives. DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That’s right. Yes, I mean, it’s a trade-off that he’s describing. It’s a tough trade-off. I think a lot of people first heard that, and probably interpreted at him as thinking 2 to 3 percent of either the country or even children’s lives — 56 million people, kids, rather, are in schools. I think that the better way to sort of — I think this is what he meant. I haven’t talked to him. But the models suggest that maybe some 60,000 people will lose their lives, sadly, to this disease. How much are we gaining by the various measures that we’re putting in place? The closing of schools, they say, may be contributing only to 2 to 3 percent of that. So that, as you point out, Jake, would be about 1,200 to 1,800 people potentially, again, not children, but people within the country. Every life is a life. And what is the trade-off in terms of starting to reopen things? That’s a big one. And I’m sure that was the data that came out of “Lancet.” And I’m sure Dr. Oz thought about that before he said that, but that is obviously a big one. But these are the questions that are going to have to be decided. If — when we reopen, Jake, I don’t think we’re ever going to get to the point where we say, OK, we are absolutely free and clear, we can guarantee that no one will get infected, no one will get sick, and no one might, sadly, die from this after we reopen. The virus is still out there. It’s still circulating. Until we have a vaccine, I think that’s going to be these constant trade-offs that we’re making. TAPPER: Right, but it does seem to a lot of experts that I have spoken with that the United States, for the most part, citizens, governors, et cetera, President Trump pushing for it as well, in terms of the social distancing guidelines, staying at home in some places, and that it has been, to a degree, successful. The curve is being flattened. But that doesn’t mean, according to these health experts, that, all of a sudden, we say, OK, it’s worked, we have avoided the worst, and we rush back to work, because we still don’t have the testing capacity. And if all of a sudden, we just, willy-nilly, as Dr. Fauci says, flip the switch and go back to normal, then the number is just going to surge again. GUPTA: That’s absolutely right. I mean, that’s the thing. I think people — sometimes, it’s hard to prove a negative, Jake. I mean, we see these numbers of people who are likely to die, the models, what they suggest, and it’s tragic. But to your point, without these measures, things that we are going through in this country that we have never experienced before as a society, they have had an impact. I mean, the initial model suggested, look, 40 to 60 percent of the country could become infected, 150 million people-plus. And the fatality rate, even if it was closer to 1 percent, which some suggested it might be, you’re starting to talk about millions of people, a million-and-a-half people that would have died. Now we’re talking about 60,000 people. It’s still a staggering number of people. But these measures are largely what have done it. We don’t have a therapeutic. We don’t have a vaccine. So why did the numbers drop like this from in the millions to in the tens of thousands? It’s because of these measures. And now, as we are thinking about reopening, we have to say, how much did this play a part in reducing that? How much did closing schools play a part in that? How much did closing large venues play a part in that? How much did closing these businesses play a part in that? And all of those are going to have to be analyzed. And they’re going to be evaluated, probably as part of any discussion of reopening, along with many other things. But that’s — you’re absolutely right. That is the — I’m sure the decision matrix that is happening right now.

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