The United States has had 126,780 deaths due to Covid-19 as of the end of June 25th, 2020. How many deaths will the U.S. have for the whole year? Let’s approach the problem in various ways, beginning with the simpler and less accurate formula, and progressing to the more complex and hopefully more accurate. [Worldometers.info data used for these unique calculations]
A. Double the first six months figure
126,780 deaths for nearly half the year might mean twice that number for the whole year: 253,560. Of course, that is too simplistic.
B. Use the monthly average so far
But the U.S. had no deaths from Covid-19 in January, and only one death in February, on the 29th. So we could take the total number of deaths from March, April, May, and June (4 months) and divide by 4, to get the monthly average so far. Then multiply that figure by 10 (since Jan. and Feb. had essentially none). That figure is 31,695 per month, times the 10 months: 316,950 deaths for 2020 in the U.S.
C. Assume the most recent 30 days will be the pattern for the rest of the year.
The daily average over the last 30 days (with June 25th as the 30th day) is 874 deaths per day. There are 188 days left in the year. That’s 164,312 more deaths this year, and a yearly total of 291,092 U.S. Covid-19 deaths for 2020.
D. Take the Seasonality of Covid-19 into account.
In this approach, Oct. deaths is considered comparable to June; Nov. to May; Dec. to April. July and August will each be half of December, and September will be half of November. This pattern is a rough approximation of the seasonality of the beta-coronaviruses that cause colds, OC43 and HKU1 as in the following chart:
Let’s apply that approach. (Historical values in bold. Estimated values in italics. June partially calculated by daily average. Some values rounded.)
For a total of: 334,657 deaths for 2020, which is 207,877 more deaths from June 26 to December 31, than from Feb. 29 to June 25.
E. Adjust the seasonality approach for a worst-case scenario
The approach in D, modified by taking into account a wider spread of the disease due to the end of the lockdown, the refusal of the population to go back under lockdown as the disease worsens in October, and assuming no vaccine.
This one has to be a rough estimate. Notice the near three-fold increase from September to December in the previous calculatoin. If September is 50,000, as an average of April and May, due to the above factors, then December could be three times that figure. The numbers could go:
For a subtotal of 480,000 deaths in the remainder of the year, plus the 126,780 so far, for a grand total of: 606,780
Now this last value, about 600,000, is a worst case scenario, not a most-likely scenario. But cancer kills just about 600,000 persons per year in the U.S. and cardiovascular disease kills about 650,000 per year. So it is possible for Covid-19 to kill that many persons in the U.S.
My personal opinion is that the total U.S. deaths from Covid-19 will be around 334,000, based on estimate D above. What will happen in 2021? Covid-19 is not going away anytime soon. We need a massive vitamin D supplementation program. The reduction in deaths could save millions of lives worldwide, and hundreds of thousands of lives in the U.S. over the next 2 or 3 years.
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Note: the author of this article is not a doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider.