A new study states that the deadly coronavirus will claim as many as 15 million lives during its growing epidemic. Worse, writers of the study conducted by the Australian National University admitted that this is the best-case scenario in what these researchers dubbed a “low-end” global pandemic. In addition to the staggering number of deaths, the paper also estimated the effect that the crisis would have on global economies.
According to The Daily Mail, the analysts used a 2 percent mortality rate to calculate their best-case scenario numbers. Their findings suggested that both China and India would lose millions of people. China, the epicenter of the virus, has already suffered more than 3,000 deaths and over 80,000 cases of the disease.
The estimates also suggested that around 230,000 people would die from COVID-19 in the United States. Fourteen Americans have already died from the virus, and 204 cases remain active. The researchers defended their estimate by pointing out that the coronavirus possesses a higher mortality rate than the flu.
“These estimated deaths from COVID-19 can be compared to a regular influenza season in the United States, where around 55,000 people die each year,” the study claimed.
The paper also listed the number of potential deaths in the United Kingdom as 64,000 fatalities, Germany with close to 80,000 deaths, and France with possible deaths totaling 60,000.
Similarly, the researchers claimed that tens of thousands of fatalities will possibly occur in Italy and South Korea, two countries for which have currently been hit hardest by the crisis.
However, the estimates dwarf in comparison to what researchers deemed the “high-severity forecast.” In this scenario, 68 million people around the world would die, with more than 12 million of those deaths taking place in China.
That said, major pushback against the accuracy of the fatality rate is prominent, meaning that if the offense is true then the numbers in the study would critically change. The chief medical officer of the United Kingdom recently claimed that he believed the death rate was “no higher than 1 percent” (via CBS News). Donald Trump has also been a vocal critic of the estimate, stating that he believed that the rate was “false” while also citing a figure of around 1 percent.
The study also looked into the disastrous effects the epidemic could have on world economies. The low-severity case suggested that the global GDP will shrink by $2.3 trillion. Meanwhile, the high-end scenario would cause a $9.2 trillion hit and sink a number of countries into deep recessions.
However, the analysts insisted that their approximations were “highly uncertain.” These experts added that their goal was to brace for the epidemic’s impact rather than discern the most accurate numbers.
“The goal is not to be definitive about the virus outbreak but to provide important information about a range of possible economic costs of the disease,” the researchers stated.