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COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to drop - but experts warn that more than 569,000 people will die by May 1 thanks to mutant strains

 A COVID-19 model that predicts nearly 569,000 people will die by May 1 doesn't include the new highly contagious variants that are more likely to infect people during 'every day activities'.

Infections, hospitalizations and deaths have declined in recent days. But on Sunday, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington shared a new forecast predicting a third wave of the coronavirus later this year if people don't get the vaccine. 

And while the model does show a significant decrease in cases and deaths beginning in March and April, it doesn't account for the new variants of the coronavirus that have been found in the US. 

A COVID-19 model (pictured) predicts that nearly 569,000 people will die by May 1 despite the decrease in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths

A COVID-19 model (pictured) predicts that nearly 569,000 people will die by May 1 despite the decrease in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths

And while the model (pictured) does show a significant decrease in cases and deaths beginning in March and April, it doesn't account for the new variants of the coronavirus that have been found in the US

And while the model (pictured) does show a significant decrease in cases and deaths beginning in March and April, it doesn't account for the new variants of the coronavirus that have been found in the US

IHME director Dr Christopher Murray told CNN: 'These numbers don’t yet account for the new variants. We will be putting out models at the end of the week that will, and that will change the picture.

'But the decline that we expect to see is coming because we're at the peak of seasonality,' Murray said.

Murray predicts that the vaccine 'will prevent a lot of death'.

'But it's pretty likely we believe that there will be a third wave of transmission in the winter of 2021,' Murray said, adding that that prediction is based on whether or not people get the vaccine. 


Meanwhile, Dr Leana Wen, an emergency physician, told the network on Monday that people are more likely to catch COVID-19 while grocery shopping and doing other every day activities now that there are more variants in the US. 

'We've seen what happens in other countries that have actually had coronavirus under relatively good control, then these variants took over and they had explosive spread of the virus, and then overwhelmed hospitals,' she said. 

Wen continued: 'If we thought that going to the grocery store before was relatively safe, there's actually a higher likelihood of contracting coronavirus through those everyday activities.'

The revelations come as Brazil's 'super-covid' variant was discovered in the US.

Meanwhile, Dr Leana Wen, an emergency physician, told the network on Monday that people are more likely to catch COVID-19 while grocery shopping (pictured in New York City) and doing other every day activities now that there are more variants in the US

Meanwhile, Dr Leana Wen, an emergency physician, told the network on Monday that people are more likely to catch COVID-19 while grocery shopping (pictured in New York City) and doing other every day activities now that there are more variants in the US


Health officials in Minnesota said a resident who recently returned from hard-hit Brazil was diagnosed with the strain in the Twin Cities. 

The variant - known as P1 - is likely around 50 per cent more infectious. 

President Joe Biden reinstated travel bans blocking people travelers from entering the US from several countries with dangerous variants, including the UK and Brazil. The president recently added South Africa to the list. 

But the order came too late. The Twin Cities resident tested positive for COVID-19 on January 9 and was already ill by then. 

Brazil's variant is particularly worrisome because its mutations may render vaccines less effective. 

Just hours earlier on Monday, Dr Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner and board member of Pfizer said he believed the Brazilian variant was already in the US. 

Direct flights between Brazil and the US have long been suspended but itineraries arriving in the US via layovers in others countries have still been available according to quick Google flight searches.   


The new variant accounts for nearly half of all cases in the Amazons, and hospitals in the largest city in the region, Manaus, are so overwhelmed with patients the city is in the midst of an oxygen shortage. 

The South African variant is also estimated to be about 50 per cent more infectious. 

And the spike protein mutation it and the Brazilian variant share may make them both more resistant to vaccines. 

In fact, Moderna also announced Monday that while it's vaccine still works well enough to be protective against the South African variant, lab tests suggest the antibodies triggered by the shot may be 60 per cent less potent against the virus in vitro (in a cell culture, not a live animal or person).  

It's possible the Brazilian variant could have a similar impact on the effectiveness of the shot - but it hasn't been tested directly in the lab, in animals or in humans. 

Meanwhile, the UK variant of the virus has been making its way across several US states. 

Over the weekend, Washington state reported its first cases of the B.1.1.7 COVID variant, which was first detected in the United Kingdom.

The variant has now been found in at least 22 states, with the country reporting a total of almost 200 cases, according to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

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