The U.S. is now the center of the COVID-19 pandemic as confirmed cases grew higher than in China and Italy. But infectious disease experts said the worst is yet to come for the country, with more people dying from the disease.
The federal government recorded more than 1,000 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus on Thursday. If the outbreak continues to expand across communities, experts predict that it would kill up to 200,000 people in the U.S. by the end of the year, Business Insider reported Thursday.
That is based on new models created by 18 infectious disease researchers who aimed to see how COVID-19 would affect the entire country in the coming months. The team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst gathered data from dozens of experts on the future of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.
The models provided different outcomes for the U.S. Some experts said that the federal government recorded only 5 percent to 20 percent of COVID-19 cases in March.
They also warned that the outbreak could affect between 160 million and 214 million people by the end of 2020. In the worst case scenario, the models showed 200,000 to 2.2 million could die in the same period in the U.S. alone.
Epidemiologists at Imperial College London said the numbers may even be higher if the federal government fails to implement strict measures to contain the coronavirus. Without social distancing, COVID-19 would kill millions of Americans starting in late May or early June.
Experts said that the country should also prepare for the fall. COVID-19 could potentially make a second wave of outbreak between August and December.
In the second wave of infections, more people are likely to get the virus since it commonly happens after the outbreak declines, allowing people to return to normal daily activities. In China, after local health officials confirmed zero new domestic cases, they warned that the outbreak could eventually rebound when residents resume work and school.
“Data is starting to come in from Hong Kong that stopping containment measures too early can lead to rebound effects,” Elaine Morrato, dean of the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health at Loyola University Chicago, told Business Insider. “It is fair to say some form of social distancing will be required until we have a vaccine or effective treatment identified.”