US COVID Daily Deaths Tracking Towards More Pessimistic Models

This is an update on the projection that the US will reach 500,000 cumulative COVID deaths according to the Worldometer tracking. Worldometers reporting about 489,571 deaths on February 11, 2021. John Hopkins reports 471,567 total US COVID deaths as of February 10, 2021, 475k on Feb 11 and 478k as of Feb 12. John Hopkins will report the US reaching 500K cumulative COVID deaths about 3 days after Worldometers.

The pandemic is a horrible tragedy. This article is merely an attempt to objectively look at what the latest numbers and forecasts are telling us about the course of the pandemic. I hope for better scenarios where the vaccines and improving treatments enable an end to the pandemic.

Here are the three main points from the daily data and the forecasts:
* The daily US death numbers are concerning in that we are already trending toward more pessimistic forecasts and scenarios.
* February 2021 is tracking to the more pessimistic models. Will better-confirmed daily case numbers translate to better results and scenarios in March, April and May?
* If the current vaccines are working as hoped and the mutated COVID variants are not as bad as feared then there will not be an increase of cases and deaths in April and May in the USA (or elsewhere in the world). If the cases and deaths start trending up again in April or at any point then the optimistic scenarios around the current vaccines are not happening.

Getting below 2000 daily deaths by March 6 would indicate better scenarios might be unfolding and it would be really good if US daily deaths (7-day moving average) were to get below 1500 daily deaths at that point.

The daily infection counts are less precise because testing is missing many of the actual infections. Getting to lower positive daily confirmed cases is hopeful. Having 80,000 to 100,000 daily cases for 3-4 weeks, should see daily deaths drop down to 1000 per day or less based upon 40,000 daily cases in September, 2020.

The South African variant (aka 501.V2 or B.1.351) is currently the most concerning variant. However, this emerged in mid-2020 and scientific reports tracking mutations indicate there was an increase in mutations in December 2020. The pace of mutations increased from mid-2020 to today. This is likely why the CEO of Pfizer (one of the main vaccine producers) indicated there was a high probability that current vaccines would fail against new variants. It will not be the South Africa variant but new variants emerging December, 2020 or later.

Fivethirtyeight has a summary of all US COVID death projection models.

The March 6, 2021 projections cumulative range from 512K to 546K. Worldometers reports 483K deaths as of Feb 10, 2021. John Hopkins reported 3219 deaths on February 11, 2021.

The IHME (University of Washington) model is on the low end of the various projection models. They projected daily deaths on Feb 11, 2021 at 2477. The seven-day moving average is at 2819. Weekend numbers are underreported. IHME expected daily deaths to drop below 2800 on Feb 3, 2021.

The cumulative deaths from Jan 30, 2021 to Feb 12, 2021 is about 39,000 while the IHME model projected 35,000.

Unfortunately, the US is currently tracking towards the Georgia Tech projection of 530-535k cumulative US COVID deaths on March 6, 2021 (per the John Hopkins count).

There are 94 forecasting sources at the COVID forecast hub.

February 2021 is tracking to the more pessimistic models. Will better-confirmed daily case numbers translate to better results and scenarios in March, April and May?

SOURCES- FiveThirtyEight, John Hopkins, IHME, Worldometers, COVID forecast hub
Written By Brian Wang,