A key forecasting model often cited by experts and used by the White House has revised its prediction of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., now estimating a peak of 410,451 by Jan. 1.
The model created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington posted an update Friday predicting an additional 224,000 Americans will die by the beginning of next year.
The model says that as many as 122,000 of those deaths could be avoided with safety measures, including near-universal mask use, but it warns that easing restrictions could cause the death toll to be more than 620,000.
“We all must learn from those leaders of nations where the virus has been contained, or where second waves of infections have occurred, and where swift action has been taken to prevent loss of life,” IHME Director Christopher Murray said in a statement.
Murray warned about governments pursuing herd immunity as a way to expedite the reopening economies.
“This first global forecast represents an opportunity to underscore the problem with herd immunity, which, essentially, ignores science and ethics, and allows millions of avoidable deaths,” Murray said. “It is, quite simply, reprehensible.”
The IHME model is more aggressive in its predictions than some other models. Their update comes just one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established a new forecast predicting 211,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 by Sept. 26.