US likely to cross 100,000 dead by June

The United States will probably pass the bar of 100 000 dead from COVID – 19 before early June, according to multiple epidemiological models, none of which predict an arrest will be contagious during the summer, on the contrary.

” We are going to lose 75 000, 80 000 or 100 000 people, “said President Donald Trump on Fox on Sunday, arguing that shutting down the economy had prevented a balance that would otherwise have reached “at least” 1.5 million deaths.

In reality, the estimate is low. The country, which already deplores 68000 deaths linked to the new coronavirus and where one counts the third of the cases registered in the world, continues to record assessments in the order of 30 000 new cases a day, and several states have started to reopen their economies, without waiting to get the virus under control.

The White House plans itself 100 000 at 240 000 dead. An internal report from the National Public Health Agency (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC), consulted by the New York Times , even envisages a new outbreak in mid -May, with a nearly doubling of the daily number of deaths by June 1 er , i.e. 3000 instead of approximately 1500 at this time. The White House said the report had not been adopted by the executive.

Even if the contagions did not start up again because of the deconfinement, the mechanics of the epidemic made it inevitable to cross the next big symbolic caps.

“My personal estimate is that we will reach 100 000 died in early June, “says Nicholas Reich, professor of biostatistics at the University of Massachusetts, whose laboratory has merged several large models from other institutions to chart a medium course . Based on this average, expect 90 000 dead by 23 May.

The Americans seem to have already decided to deconfinate themselves without waiting for official directives, according to the data of their mobile phones compiled by four companies (Facebook, Google, Descartes Labs, SafeGraph) and which have anonymously analyzed the researchers of the 'Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

“Mobility has started to rise in many states, even before the raising of social distancing guidelines,” said Christopher Murray, who heads the institute, on Monday. “This increased mobility, in the last week or the last ten days, probably causes more infections. “

This institute, which had been criticized for its optimism, has significantly revised up its prediction of death: from 30 000 at 134 000 by August 4. According to this model, the 100 000 deaths will be reached on 21 May.

Multiple uncertainties

On nine models cited on May 1 er by the CDC, at least three predict 100 000 deaths within four weeks, including two of the Columbia University. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology provides 113 000 dead on June 1 er . Few models go beyond four weeks, given the uncertainties.

These various figures are however surrounded by large margins of error, sometimes tens of thousands of deaths. Epidemiologists repeat that no model should be used alone, since all make different assumptions.

The most difficult to model is the behavior of people in the coming months. Will they come out masked? How many will telecommute? Will “nonessential” trips to clothing stores or restaurants return to the level before the pandemic, or will people leave home less, and if so, by how much?

“We are at a turning point, with reopening in some states but not others,” adds Nicholas Reich. “It adds a level of uncertainty. “

The US balance sheets hide great disparities, as in Europe. Large initial outbreaks, such as New York and New Jersey, are seeing contagion decline. In Texas, Illinois and the Washington region, the number of new cases is increasing. In California and Florida, the number is stagnating.

“The epicenters of tomorrow are unlikely to be the epicenters of today,” said David Rubin, of the Philadelphia Children's Hospital and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, AFP.

His team named heat as a moderating factor of the pandemic, which could help marginally, “but the temperature alone will not save you,” he warns, even in Texas, where restaurants and shopping centers have just reopened. “The dead will continue. “

The IHME researchers confirm this correlation: each degree Celsius of temperature increase has reduced the transmissions by 2%, according to Christopher Murray, who adds that the most effective measure, before the weather forecast, remains the physical distance.