Rapid vaccination rollout, mask wearing crucial to control spread

SEATTLE, Feb. 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The latest COVID-19 forecasts from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine predict more than 3.5 million deaths globally by June 1.

The United States is expected to see a death toll of 631,000 by June 1. Increasing mask use to 95% in the United States could save 44,000 lives between now and June 1.

“There are serious concerns that with the spread of new COVID-19 variants, achieving herd immunity necessary to end the pandemic may be difficult if not impossible,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, IHME director. “We may be able to bring COVID-19 under control if we continue to focus on the strategies that can keep transmission low – avoiding gatherings, wearing masks, and other measures – while working to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”

“The emerging variants of COVID-19 are showing us more about the effectiveness of vaccines as well as the strength of natural immunity from previous infections,” said Murray. “We are closely monitoring the clinical trial results as new findings could have significant bearing on the trajectory of the pandemic, which we will reflect in our model.”

“While previous infections may not be effective at blocking the transmission of emerging variants, there are clear indications that the vaccines may still prevent from half to two-thirds of severe cases and deaths from such variants,” said Murray.

Between now and June 1, 110 countries are expected to see high or extreme stress on intensive care units due to COVID-19. If people who are vaccinated return to normal levels of mobility, 17 states in the US and 13 countries in Europe could see an increase in daily deaths in April and May.

IHME’s projections are based on an epidemiological model that includes data on cases, deaths, and antibody prevalence, as well as location-specific COVID-19 testing rates, vaccination rollout, mobility, social distancing mandates, mask use, population density and age structure, and pneumonia seasonality, which shows a strong correlation with the trajectory of COVID-19.

The new projections for all countries are available at https://covid19.healthdata.org/.

About the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington School of Medicine that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME is committed to transparency and makes this information widely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions on allocating resources to improve population health

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