UW Study: COVID-19 death rate could claim 1.2 million Americans

SEATTLE -- A new study released Friday confirms the death rates for those suffering from COVID-19 infections could be staggering.

The peer-reviewed study, conducted by the University of Washington, reveals a stark prediction.

By the end of this year, if coronavirus reaches only one-fifth of our country’s population, the infection could kill anywhere between 350,000 to as many as 1.2 million Americans.

The author, Anirban Basu, stressed we still have time to take measures to bring those numbers lower, but that also depends on wide-spread testing.

“This is an extraordinary situation facing all of us,” he said.

Basu, from the University of Washington School of Pharmacy, authored the study released Friday.

The study focused on determining the infection fatality rate, based on statistics we know right now, and confirms what many health officials have repeatedly warned.

“This is an infection that is substantially more fatal than the typical flu,” said Basu.

Coronavirus is nothing like the seasonal flu, according to the report, and continued by saying those who fall ill to Covid-19 face an alarming rate of death.

“It’s quite high to seasonal flu,” added Basu. “It’s about 10-13 times higher than that.”

But now comes some good news for a change as UW Virology also published analysis Friday using samples from 95,000 patients. The publication determined the peak of local infections are now in our past.

“All the stuff we did, physical distancing, the great efforts people have done to cut the virus spread down really made a huge difference,” said Dr. Keith Jerome.

Even so, researchers continued by saying all of those efforts need to continue in order to drive down new infections.

Basu is also a PHD in healthcare economics and he says the best way to eliminate coronavirus spread, and get our nation’s economy back on track, is to expand testing far beyond the current efforts.

“How do we make it visible? To actually figure out which neighborhoods has the virus present, and the best way to do that is testing and sampling,” he said. “Then focus the effort in those targeted ways.”

King County health officials also announced Friday they are seeing an increased viral transmission rate since about a month ago.

Plus, the new analysis shows Eastern Washington struggling with the virus shows how populations in those regions are seeing a persistently higher transmission rate.