The number of cases as a function of time can be modeled quite well with the well-known logistic function. This means that, initially, the number of cases N grows exponentially (e.g., N' = N). Then, due to mitigating factors (like the maximum number of cases in a finite population), the rate in the number of new cases decreases until there are no new cases. The number of cases obtained in this situation is known as the "capacity" which we usually parameterize as K.
Here's the amusing part. You can take any logistic curve, and as long as it is on the exponential part of the curve (which is easy to estimate from even a bit of data), any value of K that is sufficiently larger than the current number of cases is compatible with the data. Only when the data reliably shows that we're off the exponential can we estimate K (which is typically around twice the number at which point it went from being exponential to flattening out).
So, we don't know which world we live in right now. We could be nearly half way through the total number of cases, or only 1%. We could see millions die, or only thousands.
This is why many advocate for an abundance of caution.
This is not some conspiracy. Only some ignorant twat stepping outside of his lane would think this, which is admittedly many. We absolutely may, with the benefit of hindsight, regret reacting so aggressively to the threat, or we may regret not reacting more aggressively.
And, regardless, countries like the USA, who had the benefit of witnessing many countries experience great difficulty with the outbreak, had no excuse for its bungling management of the threat. This is what happens when you run your country like a money laundering business.