U.S. faces half a million COVID-19 deaths by end-February, study finds

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - More than a half million people in the United States could die from COVID-19 by the end of February next year, but around 130,000 of those lives could be saved if everybody were to wear masks, according to estimates from a modelling study. The estimates, from a study by researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, show that with few effective COVID-19 treatment options and no vaccines yet available, the U.S.

Reuters October 24, 2020 00:11:03 IST
U.S. faces half a million COVID-19 deaths by end-February, study finds

US faces half a million COVID19 deaths by endFebruary study finds

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - More than a half million people in the United States could die from COVID-19 by the end of February next year, but around 130,000 of those lives could be saved if everybody were to wear masks, according to estimates from a modelling study.

The estimates, from a study by researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, show that with few effective COVID-19 treatment options and no vaccines yet available, the U.S. faces "a continued COVID-19 public health challenge through the winter."

"We are heading into a very substantial fall/winter surge," said IHME director Chris Murray, who co-led the research.

He said the projections, as well as the real-life current evidence of rising infection rates and deaths, showed there is no basis to "the idea that the pandemic is going away," adding: "We do not believe that is true."

U.S. President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 221,000 Americans so far, has become the top election issue for him and Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Polls have shown that Americans trust Biden more than Trump to handle the crisis.

The IHME study forecast that large, populous states such as California, Texas and Florida will likely face particularly high levels of illness, deaths and demands on hospital resources.

"We expect the surge to steadily grow across different states and at the national level, and to continue to increase as we head towards high levels of daily deaths in late December and in January," Murray said.

The modelling study, which mapped out various scenarios and their projected impact on the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, found that universal mask-wearing could have a major impact on deaths rates, potentially saving 130,000 lives.

Current mask use in the United States varies widely. While some states, like New York, set strict rules on when to wear masks, others have no requirements. The issue has become political, in which some supporters have taken their cues from Trump, who is often seen without a mask and has repeatedly questioned their usefulness.

"Expanding mask use is one of the easy wins for the United States ... and can save many lives," Murray said.

He added that, just as right now in parts of Europe and in some local areas of high transmission in the U.S., many U.S. states would need to re-introduce social distancing measures to curb the winter surge.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland, additional reporting by Caroline Humer, editing by Steve Orlofsky)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.