The assessment, from a former White House public health official who now works in the pharmaceutical industry, did not suggest that most people will become infected or ill—rather, just that most will encounter the virus, which has killed at least two dozen Americans and infected hundreds more.
Not all public health experts share that view. And not everyone exposed to the virus will become infected. Still, the briefing highlighted the potential gravity of the growing crisis.
Two sources–a member of Congress who attended the briefing and a second person with knowledge of it–described the remarks, made last week, to The Daily Beast. They were delivered by Rajeev Venkayya, the president of the Global Vaccine Business Unit at Tokyo-based pharmaceutical giant Takeda. The member of Congress said the comment was “sobering,” while the second person noted it came during a discussion about how to manage the costs of medical care related to the coronavirus. Venkayya pointed out that widespread access to medical care will be vital, given the likely breadth of the exposure, that source said.