A widely cited model from the University of Washington predicts worsening outbreaks as winter returns to the Northern Hemisphere, with daily deaths expected to reach as high as 30,000 deaths during December.
The global COVID-19 death toll could total 2.8 million by January 1, about 1.9 million more from now until the end of the year.
Mask mandates and social distancing could save hundreds of thousands of lives, but there is “a tremendous amount of COVID fatigue” among the world’s government leaders because of economic downturns, said Dr Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
He added: “We are facing the prospect of a deadly December, especially in Europe, Central Asia, and the United States. But the science is clear and the evidence irrefutable: mask-wearing, social distancing, and limits to social gatherings are vital to helping prevent transmission of the virus.”
The IHME model projects the wave will peak in the United States in early December at about 2,900 deaths per day. India, the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Japan will lead the world in total deaths by January 1, according to the forecast.
More than 26.5 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and more than 872,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 17.6 million people have recovered
Iraq’s health ministry has warned hospitals may “lose control” in the coming days as the country has recorded its highest single-day rise in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) does not expect widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 until the middle of next year, a spokeswoman said, stressing the importance of rigorous checks on their effectiveness and safety.
Brazil’s caseload topped four million as Australia extended its ban on international travel for three more months and New Zealand announced it will retain current restrictions until mid-September as a precautionary measure.