A study by leading health researchers in the US has concluded that 80,000 Americans are expected to die from coronavirus by this Summer, even if social distancing measures are observed.

The research by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, found that national hospital capacity is likely to be overwhelmed by the second week of April.

The lower end of death toll estimate is 38,000, with the worst case scenario expected to exceed 162,000 deaths within four months.

The data the researchers analysed includes current hospitalisation and mortality rates, in addition to the age, gender and pre-existing health problems of patients.

The IHME model also predicts that up to 2,300 patients could die every day when the peak of the crisis hits.

“Our estimated trajectory of COVID-19 deaths assumes continued and uninterrupted vigilance by the general public, hospital workers, and government agencies,” said Christopher Murray, IHME director.

“The trajectory of the pandemic will change — and dramatically for the worse — if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions.” he added.

The study found that at least 21 US states will run out of intensive care unit beds, and that at least 12 of those states need 50 percent or more beds to deal with the influx of patients that will occur.

It’s a grim warning that the forecasters hope will spur action.

“We hope these forecasts will help leaders of medical systems figure out innovative ways to deliver high-quality care to those who will need their services in the coming weeks,” said Murray.

At time of writing (March 27, am) the US now has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country on the globe, including China. Some 86,000 are now confirmed to have the virus, with 1,300 deaths so far.

President Trump has suggested that this reflects a high rate of testing compared to other countries.

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