Computer Model Forecasts a 'Very Deadly December'

Along with COVID-19, doctors are also worried about a 'twindemic' of the virus and flu
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2020 7:30 AM CDT
Computer Model Forecasts a 'Very Deadly December'
A health care worker prepares the flu vaccine on Jan. 3, 2019, at a clinic in Memphis, Tenn.   (Jim Weber/Daily Memphian via AP)

Dr. Anthony Fauci cautioned Thursday that Americans should prepare to "hunker down" for the fall and winter to keep COVID-19 at bay, and a new computer model is lending weight to that warning. CNN reports that the University of Washington's influential Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecast sees a possibility of more than 415,000 coronavirus deaths by Jan. 1—an essential doubling of the current death toll in just four months. And that's not even the worst-case scenario, which would end in 600,000 fatalities. "We look like we're going to have a very deadly December ahead of us," IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray says. All of this comes amid a backdrop of hospitals steeling themselves for a "twindemic" of coronavirus and flu cases over the winter, a possible "nightmare" scenario that has prompted medical experts to urge people to get their flu shots ASAP, per the Washington Post.

Getting one of those illnesses could make someone more vulnerable to getting the second, doctors worry, and contracting both at once "could be catastrophic to your immune system," one family physician tells CNN. Because both COVID-19 and the flu can weaken or inflame the heart, brain, respiratory system, and various muscles, having both together would up the risk "of longer-term effects of any of those," a critical care specialist at UC San Francisco says. It could also increase a patient's chances of getting hit with a third whammy: pneumonia. Meanwhile, a different scenario has emerged from our neighbors up north: Reuters reports that, for the first time since mid-March, Canada was able to claim zero new coronavirus deaths in a 24-hour period. Per public health agency stats, the number of COVID-19 deaths there on Friday stood at 9,163—the same number logged on Thursday. (More coronavirus stories.)

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