Washington: More than 500,000 lives could be lost across the US due to the novel coronavirus pandemic by the end of February 2021, a new study has projected.
According to the study published on Friday in the Nature Medicine journal, researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) also found that universal mask use could save around 130,000 lives in the country in the coming months, Xinhua news agency reported.
"We are heading into a very substantial fall/winter surge, so the idea that the pandemic is going away ... we do not believe is true," Christopher Murray, IHME director and a lead author of the study, told reporters.
"We expect the surge to steadily grow across different states and at the national level, and to continue to increase as we head towards high levels of daily deaths in late December and in January," he said.
The predictions came a day after President Donald Trump said the coronavirus is "going away" in his last and final presidential debate with his Democratic challenger Joe Biden, who warned of a "dark winter" and encouraged mask-wearing.
In their face-off, while Trump claimed "we're learning to live with" the coronavirus, Biden rebutted that "we're learning to die with it" .
The fresh projection came as the US is trying to battle a resurgence of fresh coronavirus cases.
Presently the worst-hit country in the world by the pandemic, the US has so far reported 8,484,991 Covid-19 cases and 223,914 deaths.