The number of coronavirus deaths may hit 1.8 million around the world amid efforts to curb the spread of the virus, according to new research.
However, the study also found that tens of millions of lives could be saved if governments swiftly act to implement strict public health measures, such as quarantining, testing, and broad social distancing.
A previous research from Imperial College London has motivated the British government to boost its efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.
An AFP toll based on country data and World Health Organisation figures revealed that global infections are already at 500,000, with more than 22,000 deaths.
The data used by researchers for Imperial College modelling simulations describes the severity of the virus, covering its contagiousness and estimated mortality rate as well as demographic and societal factors.
The researchers examined different levels of response, from spontaneous social distancing to the lockdown measures imposed in the worst-affected countries.
“Our analysis highlights the challenging decisions faced by all governments in the coming weeks and months, but demonstrates the extent to which rapid, decisive and collective action now could save millions of lives,” the authors said.
“However, at the current time, it is not possible to predict with any certainty the exact number of cases for any given country or the precise mortality and disease burden that will result.”
The report does not cover the social and economic costs of the containment measures, “which will be high and may be disproportionately so in lower income settings”.
The researchers also warned that “suppression strategies will need to be maintained in some manner until vaccines or effective treatments become available to avoid the risk of later epidemics”.