Researchers at the University of Washington have predicted the United States could see more than half-a-million deaths from the coronavirus by the end of the year amid the current global pandemic.
As the Daily Caller reports, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimate comes from a newly released report predicting between 288,000 to 600,000 Americans and nearly 3 million people worldwide could die by January 1.
The figures would be a significant rise in the current death toll in the United States, ranging between 172,000 and 188,000.
According to the report, the fluxuation between the figures is dependent on governmental intervention and enforcement of social distancing guidelines. The coronavirus pandemic is also expected to worsen as the flu season approached.
Christopher Murray, director of IHME, went as far as to predict a “deadly December” should state and local officials fail to prevent social gatherings.
“We are facing the prospect of a deadly December, especially in Europe, Central Asia, and the United States,” Murray said in a statement released alongside the data. “But the science is clear and the evidence irrefutable: Mask-wearing, social distancing, and limits to social gatherings are vital to helping prevent transmission of the virus.”
The Daily Caller adds:
The White House’s coronavirus task force took into account the IHME’s predictions early during the pandemic, which originated in China before spreading to the U.S., where it has killed more than 180,000 people, data from John Hopkins University show. Data also show that roughly 869,000 people have died globally from the virus.
Researchers have cast doubt on IHME’s methods, with some arguing the group’s projections extend further into the future than can be done reliably. “It’s not a model that most of us in the infectious disease epidemiology field think is well suited” to projecting death totals, Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told reporters in April, according to Stat News.
IHME predicted on April 1 that 262,029 hospital beds would be needed on the peak date of the virus, but cut that figure down by 58% to 140,823 less than a week later. The group projected on June 11 that there would be 169,890 deaths by Oct. 1, with a range between 133,201 and 290,222.