An influential coronavirus model has updated its forecast for January, predicting a “most likely” scenario of 378,321 US deaths by January 1 – a drop compared to the estimation just a week ago.
The new Covid-19 forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington projects 36,769 fewer deaths than it did last week. In that earlier prediction, it forecast 415,090 US deaths from the coronavirus.
“This decline is driven by steeper than expected declines seen in deaths in several states. In our model, these declines push out further into January and February the expected seasonal surge, reducing the number of deaths expected by January 1,” the IHME explained.
“We expect over 3,000 deaths per day by the end of December. Between now and January 1 we expect approximately 180,000 deaths.”
Even fewer people would die if universal mask mandates were put in place, IHME said – an estimated 263,483 people. But if current mandates are eased, the number of projected deaths soars to 445,605.
If mandates are eased, the IHME calculates that 8,571 people would die every day in the US by Jan. 1. Currently, the model projects 3,268 daily deaths – and that would tumble to 1,322 if universal mask use were in place.
“Even if herd immunity were to occur at a low level, such as 40% (the level seen in Mexico City now) with cumulative infections, by January 1, the US epidemic would only be less than half over,” the IHME notes.