As a tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University suggested that at least 82,000 people in the US had already perished and more than 1.35m been infected, a new model predicted that total could almost double by the first week of August.
The new prediction by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE), showed 147,000 mortalities being reached by August 4.
The prediction comes amid claims by Donald Trump that the models pointing to several more very deadly months may be wrong.
At the same time, as parts of the country start to loosen restrictions imposed by officials under pressure from the White House, one of the government’s top medical experts testified that a premature lifting of the lockdown, could lead to fresh outbreaks.
“I think we’re going in the right direction, but the right direction does not mean we have by any means total control of this outbreak,” infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci told members of the Senate, testifying from self-quarantine after members of the White House tested positive for the virus.
“There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control and, in fact paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery.”
Mr Trump has urged states to start to reopen and more than two-dozen have lifted some of the restrictions put in place when the virus struck. Most of those have tended to be Republican controlled.
IHME director Chris Murray was asked on CNN if he believed the true current number of deaths was higher than the totals collated by various trackers.
“I do. Like many we’ve been looking very carefully, both in the US and in other countries, at this notion of excess deaths...You look at all the increase in deaths compared to the normal numbers that are given to you,” he said.
“And in those analyses we see many more deaths both here in the US and abroad, than the officially reported numbers.”
Last week, The Independent reported the eventual total of coronavirus-related deaths may be as many 150,000, amid evidence people with serious illnesses and conditions have been staying away from hospitals out of fear of contracting the virus.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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