An influential coronavirus model has predicted an estimated 631,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States by June 1.
According to the latest forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, the result depends on the vaccine rollout and the spread of variants. A worst-case scenario could see the death toll go as high as 703,000.
Increasing mask use from current levels of 77 percent to 95 percent can save 44,000 lives by June 1, according to the model.
The IHME estimated that 17 percent of people in the United States have been infected as of Feb. 1. The daily death rate is greater than 4 per million in 41 states.
“Daily deaths have peaked and are declining. By June 1, 2021, we project that 123,600 lives will be saved by the projected vaccine rollout,” the IHME said.
The best strategies to manage this period of the pandemic are rapid scale-up of vaccination, continued and expanded mask-wearing, and concerted efforts to avoid rebound mobility in the vaccinated, according to the institute.
Some states are lifting mandates rapidly, which poses a real risk of increased transmission as new variants spread and vaccination rates remain comparatively low, the IHME warned.