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US: Model predicts 400,000 COVID-19 deaths by January

A coronavirus forecasting model that the White House has relied on predicted on Friday that virus-related fatalities in the US might hit 410,451 by Jan. 1.

The model of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent research center at the University of Washington, says safety measures and restrictions, including mask use and social distancing, can save 122,070 people.

Easing of restrictions would lead a worst-case scenario of 620,028 total deaths, according to IHME.

IHME Director Christopher Murray warned governments against pursuing the so-called "herd immunity" strategy, which occurs when a large part of a community becomes immune to the virus through infection and recovery, to rush reopening economies.

"This first global forecast represents an opportunity to underscore the problem with herd immunity, which, essentially, ignores science and ethics, and allows millions of avoidable deaths," Murray said. "It is, quite simply, reprehensible."

The US is the worst-hit country by the pandemic with more than 6.1 million cases and nearly 187,000 fatalities, according to a running tally of Johns Hopkins University. In all, nearly 2.2 million recoveries have been recorded.

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