Worst Case Scenario: Nearly 310,000 Covid-19 Deaths in US by December, Predicts IHME

A Mayo Clinic Expert said that mask-wearing, physical distancing, and hand washing are highly effective in terms of stopping the virus transmission

The world is struggling to minimize the threat of novel Coronavirus, while the infection cases have crossed 23 million mark and the death toll has reached 800,000. Meanwhile, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) forecast projects 310,000 deaths by December in the U.S.

While currently, about 1,000 people are dying daily due to the virus infection in the U.S., as per Dr. Chris Murray, the chair of the IHME at the University of Washington the death toll from COVID-19 could spike to as high as 6,000 people a day by December.

Face Masks
Coronavirus in the U.S. Pixabay

Modeling System Projection

IHME researchers used a modeling system to understand the worst-case scenario in terms of COVID-19 pandemic. As per the prediction, the number of daily Coronavirus deaths will decrease slowly in September 2020 but then rise to nearly 2,000 a day by the start of December. But Dr. Murray said that the situation can change depending on "what our leaders do."

"We have a worse scenario in what we release and that's many, many more deaths," he said and, in fact, "by the time December rolls around, if we don't do anything at all," the daily Coronavirus death toll would be much higher than 2,000 deaths per day by December. The modeling system has projected that it would be as high as 6,000 deaths a day.


All Over Death Toll Increase in the U.S.

The IHME forecast which was released on Friday, August 21 has projected almost 310,000 deaths in the U.S. by December which is 15,000 more than the previous forecast two weeks ago. As per the expert, this is because while the COVID-19 infection cases are dropping in some parts of the U.S., the death rate remains the same.

Dr. Murray said that in some states, like California, cases of SARS-CoV-2 peaked are coming down, but deaths haven't. "We're seeing upswings in transmission in places like Kentucky and Minnesota, Indiana," he noted. But if the maximum number of people start using masks to prevent the Coronavirus transmission, and the mask use increases to 95 percent, the number of deaths could drop by almost 70,000, claimed Dr. Murray.


Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic COVID-19 expert said, "Part of what we're seeing in this resurgence is a lack of mask-wearing and physical distancing. We have watched what happens when we ignore or don't implement those kinds of precautions.

"We have also watched countries, in real time, that have realized they've got a major problem and mandated public mask-wearing and very quickly have seen those cases be suppressed down to manageable levels where we could go back to work, we could go back to school, we could do the things that we want to do.

Dr. Poland says putting together, mask-wearing, physical distancing and hand washing/sanitizing creates a "web of interventions" is highly effective in stopping the spread of the virus. "I think if we do the right things here, despite the resurgence, we can get this dampened back down and push this off until we have these just-on-the-brink vaccines ready to go," he added.

As of now, the U.S. has reported over 5,660,000 infection cases and more than 176,000 deaths. Researchers are constantly tracking infections and recoveries and early estimate for overall COVID-19 recovery rate is between 97 percent and 99.75 percent. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. recorded over 2,189,000 novel Coronavirus recovery cases since the epidemic began.

But the recent re-infection cases have triggered major concern and confusion among the researchers. Dr. Polad told IBTimes Singapore,

We do know that with seasonal Coronaviruses such as the common cold, it's entirely possible that someone could be reinfected months later. But no one has proven it yet in humans with this novel Coronavirus. So more work needs to be done. We need to study this in a very careful way, following a series of patients.

While explaining about immunity against the novel Coronavirus, Dr. Poland said, "We do observe immunity against SARS-CoV-2 but the burning issue is we do not know the efficacy of that immunity against infection or the duration of that immunity, whether it's induced by infection or vaccination. This is another key question that we are working to answer."

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