Experts Predict Second COVID-19 Peak In US May Be Less Deadly

COVID-19 has already affected more than 3.1 million people in the U.S. and left over 133,000 dead. The novel coronacvirus is expected to cause more infections in the coming months but some experts predict it could become less deadly than in the first peak of the outbreak.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at University of Washington issued new projections that suggest the next peak of coronavirus infections will not be as deadly as the one in April, when deaths climbed from 6,000 to 65,000. The number of people killed by COVID-19 has already been declining.

In the past week, health authorities recorded 517 average daily deaths. On the deadliest day of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. on April 21, the virus killed more than 27,000 people, according to Business Insider

The IHME suggested that coronavirus-related deaths were dropping because young people, while becoming infected, were not dying at the same rate as older people. 

For example, 9,911 people over 75 years died from COVID-19 for the week ending April 18, while 380 deaths came from the 25 to 44 age group. The figures declined on July 4, with 96 senior patients dead and only five in the younger group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In Florida, the median age of those with coronavirus fell to 35 years from 65 in March. More people under 40 are also testing positive for the virus in Arizona, California, Minnesota, Ohio, South Carolina and Texas.

However, the decline does not mean the U.S. will not see a large number of coronavirus deaths in the coming months. The IHME model shows that COVID-19 could kill 80,000 more people between July and November. 

That would be a nearly 60 percent increase from the currently more than 130,000 deaths linked to COVID-19 across the country. Experts also noted that there is a possibility that these figures could go above IHME’s projection.

"No one wants to say too early that deaths are not rising. That would really be a mistake," Howard Koh, a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, told Business Insider. "If somebody is infected and then has the risk of getting sick and being hospitalized and dying — that whole trajectory takes a number of weeks, at least, maybe up to a month or more."

The IHME model provides two scenarios where changes in the country’s approach to COVID-19 contribute to the rise and fall of future deaths. If the government continues to lift social distancing orders but require mask use, total coronavirus deaths could reach 215,000 by November. 

In the second scenario, fatalities could drop to 208,000 in the same period if the country maintains all safety measures. However, experts said that nationwide deaths are highly likely to significantly increase in the fall, when flu outbreaks also occur. 

"Our model strongly suggests that there's quite a seasonable component to this disease," Theo Vos, who worked on the IHME model, told Business Insider. "Come the fall, we expect the pressure on transmission to go up."

Coronavirus COVID-19 temporary hospital - Central Park, New York A temporary hospital is built in Central Park on the East Meadow lawn on March 30, 2020 in New York City. The facility is a partnership between Mt. Sinai Hospital and Christian humanitarian aid organization Samaritan's Purse, equipped with 68 beds to treat COVID-19 patients. John Lamparski/Getty Images

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