New figures estimate that the new coronavirus could kill more Americans than cancer, heart disease or dementia in 2020.
So far, the illness – known as COVID-19 – has sickened more than 4,200 people and killed 74.
But as a graphic from The New York Times shows, things could be much bleaker should overall infection rates and fatality rates rise.
In the worst-case scenario 6.99 million Americans would die from coronavirus – 2.74 million of them being those aged 80 and above.
New figures estimate that the new coronavirus could kill more Americans than cancer, heart disease or dementia in 2020 with an overall infection rate of 41% and a fatality rate of 0.5%
So far, coronavirus has sickened more than 4,200 Americans and killed at least 74. Pictured: Medics transport a patient through heavy rain into an ambulance at the Life Care Center of Kirkland, linked to several coronavirus cases, March 7
But the numbers could exceed the deaths caused by cancer if the overall infection rates reach 70% and the mortality rate is 3%. Pictured: Lori Spencer visits her mom Judie Shape, 81, who Spencer says has tested positive for coronavirus at Life Care Center, March 11
In this worst-case scenario, 6.99 million Americans would die from coronavirus – 2.74 million of them being those aged 80 and above. Pictured: Healthcare workers workers test drive-up patients outside the Scripps Clinic for coronavirus disease in La Jolla, California, March 16
For the graphic, The Times collected numbers for other leading causes in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available.
Then, the newspaper used an estimate that Dr. James Lawler, an associate professor, in the department of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska, presented to a group of CDC officials and hospital executives: 480,000 US deaths.
This is, of course, much higher than the number of people who die per year from diseases such as dementia, stroke or diabetes.
Only two diseases kill people more: cancer and heart disease, causing an estimated 595,000 and 647,000 deaths per year, respectively.
From there, The Times created sliders with infection rate and fatality rate assuming that one percent to 70 percent of the US is infected and 0.5 percent to three percent of the population dies.
Worldwide, more than 173,000 people have been infected and more than 6,600 people have died
Some say as few as 20 percent of the population could be infected while, in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested 70 percent of the population will contract the virus.
In the absolute best case scenario, where just one percent of the population is infected and there is a fatality rate of 0.5 percent, only an estimated 3,300 Americans die.
That would coronavirus as the 55th leading cause of death in 2020.
In an average scenario, during which there is an overall infection rate of 30 percent and a fatality rate of two percent, coronavirus would cause 1.97 million deaths – ahead of heart disease and cancer.
And in the worst-case scenario, in which 70 percent of the population is infected and there is a three percent fatality rate, the virus would cause an estimated 6.99 million deaths.
That would be 10 times as many US deaths as from heart disease and 11 times as many deaths as from cancer.
However, this likely does not include interventions such as drive-thru testing, barring visitors from nursing homes – and other social-distancing measures.
That’s 10 times as many people that die from heart disease and 11 times as many as die from cancer, the two leading causes of death in the US. Pictured: Members of a Servpro cleanup crew wearing hazardous material suits prepare equipment inside the Life Care Center of Kirkland, March 11
However, this likely does not include interventions such as drive-thru testing, barring visitors from nursing homes – and other social-distancing measures. Pictured: A patient in a biocontainment unit is carried on a stretcher at the Columbus Covid 2 Hospital in Rome, March 16
The Times also looked at ages to examine which groups would be most affected by the scenario in which 70 percent are infected and 3.0 percent die.
Among those from ages 10 to 39, coronavirus was the leading cause of death, killing about 84,000 people – with drug overdose and guns not far behind.
The risk of death increased with age. Among those from ages 60 to 79, an estimated 3.55 million people died, followed by heart disease and cancer, respectively.
In the highest-risk group, those aged 80 and above, an estimated 2.7 million died, with heart diseases and dementia being the second- and third-leading causes.
It’s important to remember that this figures are just estimates and as widespread testing becomes more common, a clearer picture will be made available regarding infection rates and mortality rates.
Worldwide, more than 179,000 people have been infected and more than 7,000 people have died.