By Ross Thrasher
The Institute for Health Metrics & Education at the University of Washington has just revised its COVID-19 mortality projections to December 1st (http://www.healthdata.org/covid/updates). For each country over the next 100 days, trend lines are provided for the difference between status-quo mitigation practices and the likely outcomes if mandates are eased (worse) or masks are universally worn (better).
Chile as an example shows these three lines close together because its effective isolation/distancing strategies have already flattened the curve, and the IHME projects only 32 deaths per day in Chile between now and December. On the other hand in the USA a wide divergence is predicted between the graphs for current practices, mandates easing and universal mask-wearing.
Government recommendations and public compliance can still make a huge difference in future outcomes, but as we shall see below the status-quo option will foster many more American coronavirus tragedies.
COVID-19 has claimed 180,000 lives to date in the United States. The persistence of 2.5 million active American cases throughout the 50 states is ominous, and indeed the IHME 100-day forecast is 310,000 US deaths — an average of 1300 daily until December. (More than half could be prevented by 95% mask-wearing compliance.) No doubt the reopening of schools and businesses, plus the anticipated recurrence of seasonal influenza, will contribute to this grim total.
Brazil will not be far behind if its response to the pandemic remains tepid: 900 fatalities per day for an aggregate death toll of 204,000 by December 1st. Mexico can expect to lose 700 lives/day for a total of 130,000. Colombia and Peru will probably average 300 and 200 deaths respectively for the next 100 days to raise their mortality count to around 45,000 each.
The IHME predicts that Iran and Russia, whom I have previously suspected of low-balling their COVID casualties, will increment 200+ daily deaths to reach 40,000 apiece by December.
Unfortunately IHME has not included India in its projections, but I would estimate a continuation of its current 1000-a-day body count to exceed 150,000 dead by December. It could get much worse than that.
A rebound of virus cases in Western Europe has prompted upward revisions of the IHME mortality projections for Spain (240/day to a total of 53,000), the United Kingdom (200/day to 42,000) and France (120/day to 42,000). Can their second wave be this severe?
For the next three months, the average fatality estimate for the twelve countries named above is 5400 daily, commensurate with recent numbers for the whole world! A daunting prospect unless containment practices improve worldwide.