The global coronavirus death toll may increase five-fold by Christmas as cases surge across the world, according to experts.
Around 3.2 million more people could die by the beginning of next year under a ‘worst case scenario’ model drawn up by the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.
Researchers at the school’s Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) fear the total number of global Covid-19 deaths could stand at four million at the start of 2021.
Under the institute’s ‘worst case’ model, there could be 916,688 deaths in India, 620,029 in the US and 287,635 in Japan.
This forecast is based on governments around the world continuing to ease social distancing measures without improving mask-wearing rates.
The Netherlands and Spain would suffer the most deaths in proportion to their populations, with 549.8 fatalities per 100,000 people in Holland and 393.1 per 100,000 in Spain.
Dr Christopher Murray, director of the IHME, said : “Looking at the staggering Covid-19 estimates, it’s easy to get lost in the enormity of the numbers.
“The number of deaths exceeds the capacity of the world’s 50 largest stadiums, a sobering image of the people who have lost their lives and livelihoods.”
He warned the world faces a ‘deadly December’, particularly in Europe, Central Asia and the US, with coronavirus becoming more prevalent in cold conditions.
However, Dr Murray said mask-wearing, social distancing and limiting social gatherings can help to prevent infections and deaths.
The institute’s ‘most likely’ scenario anticipates the international death toll will stand at 2.8 million by the end of the year, an increase of around two million on the current count.
This model envisions lockdown measures and mask-wearing rates remaining the same, with India, the US and Brazil suffering the most deaths.
There have been 881,285 coronavirus fatalities across the world so far.