The coronavirus pandemic has forced many countries to their knees. Now, the virus has its eyes on the U.S. A damning report published by the Imperial College claims that coronavirus has the potential to kill over 4 million Americans before we have a vaccine.
The published report plugged the data obtained by the outbreaks in China, Italy and South Korea into an epidemic simulation software. The report uses these data to predict what could unfold in the U.S.
The research team analyzed three ways the U.S. could counter the spread.
The first scenario where the U.S. lets the disease spread and imposes no measures. As per the study, going down this road would infect 81% of the population.
The study assumes a mortality rate of 0.9%. And since coronavirus is much more fatal for older people, the research predicts that 4% to 8% of Americans over the age of 70 will die.
Worse, as the number of cases grow, it would pose tremendous strain on healthcare services. Reportedly, as many as 20% of the people contracting coronavirus require hospitalization. And many patients with severe symptoms need to be put on ventilators.
So, if the virus is not contained aggressively, the U.S. will face a grave shortage of ventilators and workers who operate them. Without proper medical care, the death count can reach 4.4 million.
In the second simulation, Imperial College researchers assumed that the U.S. takes a stricter approach in dealing with the pandemic.
In this scenario, all symptomatic cases are ordered into isolation. People older than 70 years are asked to practice social distancing.
This measure would put less strain on the medical system than scenario one. Even then, the need for ventilators would be eight times more than the existing capacity of the U.S.
Under this scenario, COVID-19 could claim 1.1 American million lives in the next six months.
The third simulation assumes that the U.S. takes stringent measures to contain the spread. Under this assumption, the U.S. isolates all symptomatic cases and quarantines their family members. Social distancing is imposed on all ages, and all public gatherings are shut down.
This strategy will need to be implemented in full force until a vaccine is developed and made available to the entire population. If the measures are lifted even for a few weeks, a contagion could occur again.
But the suppression measures seem idealistic. A potential vaccine could be 18 months away. Since the U.S. is already drowning it debt, shutting down the economy for 18 months doesn’t seem like a viable option either.
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Last modified: June 24, 2020 1:03 AM UTC