‘Deadly December’ ahead with nearly 30,000 COVID-19 deaths each day in Northern Hemisphere, IHME predicts

The University of Washington’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is predicting an estimated 30,000 deaths from COVID-19 each day in the Northern Hemisphere as winter falls.

According to IHME, part of the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, nearly 770,000 lives worldwide could be saved between now and Jan. 1 through coronavirus preventive measures suggested by the CDC, including mask-wearing and social distancing.

Deaths expected by Jan. 1 total 2.8 million, which is 1.9 million more from now until the end of the year, IHME projected.

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The institute modeled three scenarios:

A “worst case”: Mask usage stays at current rates and governments continue relaxing social distancing requirements. This scenario leads to 4.0 million total deaths by the end of the year.

A “best case”: Mask usage is near-universal and governments impose social distancing requirements when their daily death rate exceeds 8 per million. This scenario leads to 2 million total deaths by end of the year.

A “most likely case”: This assumes mask usage and other mitigation measures remain unchanged. This scenario results in approximately 2.8 million deaths by the end of the year.

“The references to 750,000 lives saved and 30,000 daily deaths in December represent the differences between the best case and most likely scenarios,” the report said.

“These first-ever worldwide projections by country offer a daunting forecast as well as a roadmap toward relief from COVID-19 that government leaders as well as individuals can follow,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. “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.”

Each scenario illustrates a significant increase in comparison to current total deaths, due to a likely seasonal rise in COVID-19 cases in the Northern Hemisphere.

“To date, COVID-19 has followed seasonal patterns similar to pneumonia, and if that correlation continues to hold, northern countries can anticipate more cases in the late fall and winter months,” the report stated.

According to IHME’s scenarios, the nations with the highest per capita total deaths would be the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Netherlands, and Spain.

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By WHO region, IHME projects 959,685 total deaths by January 1 in the Region of the Americas, 667,811 in the European Region, 79,583 in the African Region, 168,711 in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, 738,427 in the South-East Asia Region, and 191,598 in the Western Pacific Region.

“People in the Northern Hemisphere must be especially vigilant as winter approaches, since the coronavirus, like pneumonia, will be more prevalent in cold climates,” Murray said.

Murray noted that it’s easy to get lost in the enormity of the coroonavirus estimates and numbers. “The number of deaths exceeds the capacity of the world’s 50 largest stadiums, a sobering image of the people who have lost their lives and livelihoods.”

Murray stated that there is an opportunity to save lives with rapid action.

“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,” Murray said.

This story was written from Los Angeles.