An influential Covid-19 model is projecting that 438,941 people will have died from Covid-19 by March 1, 2021.
The projection is from the the team at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine. They said the new figure accounts for a reduced infection fatality rate.
This is the first time the model has made projections as far out as March 1.
“In our reference scenario, which represents what we think is most likely to happen, we expect daily deaths to reach 2,200 in mid-January and slowly decline to 1,750 on March 1,” the IHME says in its latest projection.
The model predicts 36 states will see “extreme or high stress” on hospital beds by mid-December through February, with extreme stress meaning 20% of beds are filled by Covid-19 patients and high stress reflecting 10% to 19% are occupied by Covid-19 patients. This could lead to a reduction in elective surgeries, similar to what happened last spring, the IHME said.
The death toll could hit a staggering 587,000 by March 1, the IHME said if states relax social distancing measures and mask mandates.
What about a vaccine: A potential coronavirus vaccine, which could be available to some populations by next month, has not yet been factored into the model.
Dr. Chris Murray said his group plans to build the Pfizer vaccine into the model in the next couple of weeks -- as well as any other vaccines that might be ready for emergency use authorization.
“We don't think the timing of the vaccine is really going to change the story between now and March 1,” Murray told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Thursday night.
“Some health care workers will get the vaccine, but there won't be in the numbers to reach the general public to really change the course of this surge.”