Coronavirus pandemic: Virus could kill 11 times more people in the US than cancer in 2020, say experts
Assuming an overall infection rate of 70% and a fatality rate of 3.0% over the next year, nearly 7 million people could die of the disease
With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases (novel coronavirus) on the rise, experts are predicting that it could become one of the leading causes of deaths in the United States apart from cancer and heart diseases.
So far, over 4,600 people have tested positive in the United States as the government announced measures to step up testing. The country has reported 48 deaths from coronavirus.
At least 23% of people who died in the United States in 2018 did so due to heart diseases. For cancer, the rate was slightly lower at 21.1%, while 5.9% of the deaths are from accidents, also referred to as unintentional injuries.
The New York Times put together an interactive slider tool where the reader is allowed to adjust the rates of infection from 1% of the population to 70% and the fatality rates due to the disease from 0% to 3%. The publication worked with a base figure and estimated COVID-19 related deaths in the US to be 480,000, according to Dr James Lawler of Nebraska University.
At the low end of 20% of the infected population and while keeping the fatality rate at 0.5%, roughly 311,000 people could die due to the disease in the United States over the next year. However, once the fatality rate hits 1%, COVID-19 related deaths will become the leading cause of deaths in the country.
The current global fatality rate is estimated to be roughly 3.7%. However, experts say it could be much less if more tests are done across the United States and the world. Moreover, fatality rates vary across countries and age groups and depend on underlying health conditions.
Assuming an overall infection rate of 70% and a fatality rate of 3.0% over the next year, nearly 7 million people could die of the disease, which is nearly 11 times the number of deaths due to cancer.
Last week, a report emerged that CDC experts calculated that over 200 million Americans could get infected with over 1 million people dying due to the virus in a worst-case scenario. The rate of infection across the country could also vary depending on government efforts to stem the spread as well as increased testing measures.
"Anyone who says they know where this is going doesn’t know enough about the virus: We just don’t know," said Tom Frieden to the New York Times. "What’s going to happen in China when they reopen the economy? We don’t know." Friedman was the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Obama administration and now runs the non-profit group Resolve to Save Lives
The publication also looked at the fatality rates between various age groups keeping the infection spread at 20% and the fatality rate at 0.5%. The number of deaths becomes five figures over the age of 50, while it becomes six figures over the age of 60.
A clearer picture is expected to emerge over the next few months as testing efforts are ramped up across the country.