Coronavirus Model Used by White House Paints Grim Picture for Total Deaths by Christmas

The University of Washington's Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation is not seeing a positive outlook for COVID-19's impact heading into the end of the year. According to CNN, the latest model released by the institute on Friday estimates that 317,312 people could die from the coronavirus in the United States by December.

This toll means the United States could have more than 136,000 deaths over the rest of the year, with a possible daily death rate of 2,000 per day. The new rate doesn't factor in the potential impact of flu season coupled with the coronavirus. It also doesn't calculate how any changes in health procedures could affect the number.

IHME researchers did point out that mask use could help cut into the number if citizens started to take it seriously and followed guidelines. "If mask wearing in public increases to 95%, more than 67,000 lives could be saved," the institute's website reads according to CNN.

Other figures released by the CDC earlier in the week see a death total of 200,292 by September 19, possibly reaching as high as 207,269 death or as low as 195,824. The CDC only projects ahead around a month, contrasting from the University of Washington metrics, but the numbers are still hard to swallow.

"State- and territory-level ensemble forecasts predict that the number of reported new deaths per week may decrease in 18 jurisdictions. Trends in numbers of future reported deaths are uncertain or predicted to remain stable in the other jurisdictions," the CDC official site says.

These projections come one day after Donald Trump accepted the RNC nomination for a second term. Trump touted having a vaccine before the end of the year during his closing speech, leaving many questioning the rationale. This statement also comes on the FDA's heels, giving the go-ahead on a plasma treatment for COVID-19, but many questions lingered over the effectiveness.

"There are no guarantees in science, but what Operation Warp Speed does is maximize the probability of having at least one vaccine," Department of Health Human Services Deputy Chief of Staff Paul Mango said, according to CNN. "We obviously have two of our six vaccine candidates that are in phase three clinical trials right now... We will have four vaccines in phase three clinical trials by the middle of next month."

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Still, many voices remain cautious about any potential vaccine that is rushed out. Typical vaccines, if ever created, come a year or more after trials begin. Safety is a significant concern with a vaccine, opening the door for doubt simultaneously, which has been a significant issue in recent years.

The operation to find a vaccine for COVID-19 will continue no matter the outcome of November's election. As CNN notes, most of those working on the project are not political appointees of the Trump administration.