This Imagen TV video (posted 27 February) (Spanish) reports a claim by Mexico's Undersecretary of Health, Hugo López-Gatell, that approximately 78 million Mexicans could end up with COVID-19, ~8 to 10 million infected people would show symptoms and a 2 to 5% of these could have severe symptoms which could lead to death.

Is that a reasonable prediction?

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    Are you asking if he actually made that prediction, or are you asking if it will come true? We can't answer that latter question because we can't predict the future, but for what it's worth, that prediction is almost certainly a "worst-case scenario" that would only happen if no sensible precautions are taken. And the world's governments are taking every precaution they can think of.
    – F1Krazy
    Mar 19, 2020 at 20:57
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    I wonder why Is it realistic that “in the best case scenario 20% of the Australian population will be infected” by the novel coronavirus? was closed while this isn't---the questions are almost identical. Mar 24, 2020 at 11:35
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    @RebeccaJ.Stones I don't know, you might want to ask to the ones that closed your question Mar 24, 2020 at 20:12
  • Are you asking about the infection rate or the death rate? The death rate mentioned in your question is related to the measured infection rate, not to the estimated infection rate. So the death rate upon the possible 78 millions of infection would be way lower than claimed.
    – FluidCode
    Apr 27, 2020 at 12:34
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    @America All the published death rates refer to the detected cases. But the number of detected cases is order of magnitudes lower than the estimate actual number of infections. Even if number are just estimates when the estimates varies by 100 times it is quite a difference.
    – FluidCode
    Apr 27, 2020 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


That 78 million figure out of 128 million is consistent with the 40% to 70% worst case estimates for coronavirus infection rates. PolitiFact rates this as half true, not so much because it's half true (e.g., credible sources here, here, and many other places), but because "that is a projection, and other projections vary."

These are worst case projections that assume status quo conditions. Quoting from the PolitiFact article once again, emphasis mine,

Other estimates are similar. The Guardian reported on Feb. 11 that 60% of the global population could be infected if the virus is unchecked.

In other words, with no vaccine, no cure, no travel restrictions, no quarantines, and no social distancing, a majority of the people on the planet might be infected.

  • Doesn't this happen almost every year with the common flu ?
    – KonKan
    Mar 20, 2020 at 3:46
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    @KonKan - No. This level of catastrophe happens maybe once every 100 years with influenza. Maybe. The 1918 Spanish Flu killed about 50 million people worldwide, 675000 in the US. Given the population increase since then (factor of four worldwide, factor of three in the US), that would correspond to 200 million deaths worldwide, 2 million in the US. Without intervention, this disease would almost certainly be worse than was the 1918 Spanish Flu. Mar 20, 2020 at 4:30
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    @KonKan - And even the annual flu is not something to be tossed off as a minor inconvenience. It kills tens of thousands in the US alone every year. This is why doctors harp on us to get a flu vaccination every year. Unlike the flu, this new disease has no vaccine and no built-in immunity. Mar 20, 2020 at 4:32
  • @DavidHammen The population today is much healthier than at the time of the Spanish Flu, in particular in wealthy countries. I think that your point "this disease would almost certainly be worse" is stated with too much certainty.
    – gerrit
    Mar 20, 2020 at 16:23
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    @KonKan and gerrit -- What you complained about were comments, but they are correct. Mar 21, 2020 at 4:20

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