An influential model of the coronavirus pandemic predicts 389,087 Covid-19 fatalities in the US by Feb. 1 – 6,000 fewer deaths than the last forecast, even though the researchers behind the model say the spread of the virus is worsening.
The model, from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine, shows the pandemic moving into younger populations – thus the forecast of fewer deaths. The last forecast, released on Oct. 10, projected about 395,000 deaths by Feb. 1.
“Daily cases have begun to increase and transmission has intensified in the northern half of the United States,” the IHME said in its new forecast. “We expect deaths to stop declining and begin increasing in the next one to two weeks. The winter surge appears to have begun somewhat later than the surge in Europe. Daily deaths will reach over 2,000 a day in January even with many states re-imposing mandates before the end of the year.”
More data: The model projects just 314,000 deaths by Feb. 1 if everyone uses masks and more than 477,000 deaths if mask mandates are eased. Daily deaths would rise to more than 5,500 if mandates were eased but should settle at around 2,200 at current predictions.
“Expanding mask use remains the best strategy to delay and reduce the magnitude of the surge,” the IHME said.
The worsening spread will likely force many Midwestern states to reimpose restrictions, the IHME said.
The model predicts 2.4 million coronavirus deaths globally by Feb. 1.