New study projects up to 500,000 US COVID-19 deaths by February

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- More than a half million lives could be lost to COVID-19 across the United States by the end of February, researchers said Friday.

File photo: AFP

According to a study published in the Nature Medicine journal, researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) also found that universal mask use could save around 130,000 lives in the country in the coming months.

"We are heading into a very substantial fall/winter surge, so the idea that the pandemic is going away ... we do not believe is true," Christopher Murray, IHME director and a lead author of paper, told reporters.

"We expect the surge to steadily grow across different states and at the national level, and to continue to increase as we head towards high levels of daily deaths in late December and in January," he said.

The predictions came a day after US President Donald Trump said the coronavirus is "going away" in his election debate with Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee who warned of a "dark winter" and encouraged mask-wearing.

In their face-off, while Trump claimed "we're learning to live with" the coronavirus, Biden rebutted that "we're learning to die with it."