El Paso County detainees also known as "Trustees" (low-ranking inmates) and sheriff officials and morgue workers help transfer bodies to refrigerated trailers outside of the office of the city during a surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) deaths medical examiner in El Paso, Texas, USA on November 14, 2020.
Ivan Pierre Aguirre | Reuters
The number of people killed by Covid-19 in the United States could almost double in the next few months despite a nationwide introduction of vaccines, health researchers warn.
According to a report by the Institute of Health Metrics and Assessment at the University of Washington School of Medicine on December 4, the United States is projected to have 539,000 deaths by April 1.
According to the Johns Hopkins University, more than 279,000 people have died from the virus and infected more than 14.3 million in the United States.
The country is expected to approve one or more vaccines and begin distribution as early as December.
IHME researchers predict that the expected introduction of vaccines will only reduce the death toll by 9,000 before April 1, and that a rapid introduction of vaccines for high-risk individuals could save 14,000 more lives.
"The mass scale-up of vaccination in 2021 means we have a way back to normal life, but there are still some difficult months ahead of us," IHME director Christopher Murray said in a statement. "We need to be vigilant to protect ourselves at least until April, when, as our projections show, vaccines take effect."
The researchers also said that increasing mask wear to 95% by April 1 could save 66,000 lives and urged states to implement mandates to mitigate the spread and ease pressure on the health system.
"In the northern hemisphere in particular, it is vital for governments to impose or re-impose mandates that restrict gatherings and require masks," Murray said. "Where the winter flood causes infection spikes, there will be many people who can still become infected and potentially die before the vaccine is fully implemented."
The US is entering a brutal new phase of the pandemic as infections spread across the country and hospitals have been dealing with record numbers of patients since the pandemic began.
The country reported more than 227,800 Covid-19 cases on Friday, a record since the pandemic began, while 2,600 people died, according to Johns Hopkins. The US reports a weekly average of more than 2,000 deaths per day.