The study, conducted by the Comparative Health Outcomes, Policy and Economics Institute at the University of Washington's School of Pharmacy, found that 1.3 percent of people who show symptoms of COVID-19 die, an infection fatality rate which is 13 times higher than a bad influenza season.
"COVID-19 infection is deadlier than flu — we can put that debate to rest," warned Anirban Basu, a health economist at the University of Washington who authored the study.
If the infection fatality rate is accurate, and if the coronavirus continues spreading at current rates even before most states open their economies and relax social distancing restrictions, COVID-19 could claim between 350,000 and 1.2 million American lives by the end of this year, Basu found.
"This is a staggering number, which can only be brought down with sound public health measures," Basu stated in a press release announcing the study, which appears in the journal Health Affairs.
As of Wednesday morning, more than 1,528,550 people in the United States have contracted the fatal virus, and over 91,900 have died, according to data maintained by Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
Concerns over the real death toll being possibly much higher than the official US government numbers have also been recently voiced in mainstream media like The Washington Post and The New York Times.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci has stated the real number of fatalities from the novel coronavirus in US is "almost certainly" even higher than the official death toll because of the likelihood that some deaths went unrecorded.
President Donald Trump, hosting the first cabinet meeting at the White House since the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, has claimed it was "a badge of honour" that the country has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases globally. The American leader has faced widespread criticism for what was perceived as slow response to the pandemic and delays in efficiently mobilising COVID-19 testing across the country, which was hampered by a lack of availability of crucial equipment and supplies.
Earlier, he had falsely claimed the numbers surrounding coronavirus cases in the United States were “going down almost everywhere” — despite easily verifiable data showing an increase in new infections nationwide.
A newly revised coronavirus mortality model predicts nearly 135,000 Americans will die from COVID-19 by early August, almost double previous projections, as social-distancing measures for quelling the virus pandemic are increasingly relaxed, researchers warned.
The United States is currently the nation hardest hit by the coronavirus, with the number of cases and deaths exceeding other nations by a very wide margin. The US economy lost at least 21.4 million jobs since the spread of COVID-19 forced thousands of businesses to close and lay off millions of workers. The unemployment rate spiked to post-Great Depression high of 14.7 percent and more than 36 million Americans have filed new claims for unemployment benefits, though economists say the damage is likely much deeper.
The White House had projected 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the United State from the coronavirus pandemic even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained. They suggest if no social distancing measures had been put in place across the country between 1.5 million to 2.2 million people would have died.
The virus pandemic continues to spread around the globe, infecting almost 4.9 million people worldwide, and killing at least 325,300, according to Johns Hopkins University. However, multiple countries have reported a decline in the number of new cases, announcing an ease of the coronavirus restrictions or even lifting lockdowns and travel bans.