Statistical models meant to project the potential reach of the coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease suggest more than a million Americans could die.
A model from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested that 160 to 210 million Americans could contract the disease over a year. Based on mortality data and current hospital capacity, the number of deaths under the CDC’s scenarios ranged from 200,000 to as many as 1.7 million. As many as 21 million people might need hospitalization, a daunting figure in a nation with just about 925,000 hospital beds.
Globally, the numbers are even more staggering. Five researchers at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health estimated 20% to 60T of everyone on earth, between 1.4 billion and 4.2 billion people could contract the disease.
If the virus only kills 1 percent of those who contract it, somewhere between 14 million and 42 million people are at risk. In countries like Iran and Italy, where health systems are overrun, the mortality rate can be much higher.
“Modeling is to inform planning so that the worst-case scenarios are much less likely to occur,” he said in an email. “The range of estimates is huge. We need much more information, fast, to understand how to limit the harms.”
Governments across the world have taken a range of actions meant to hew closer to best-case outcomes, ranging from China’s harsh crackdowns and enforced quarantines to South Korea’s vast army of testers who screen motorists at drive-through stations.
In the United States, where the federal government has been slower to act, state governments have moved to squelch outbreaks in their backyards.