Some 500,000 people in the United States could die from Covid-19 by the end of February 2021.
This was according to estimates from a modelling study on Oct. 23, 2020.
However, around 130,000 of those lives could be saved if everybody were to wear masks in a universal mask-wearing scenario.
Few treatment options
The situation is dire for the United States as it faces "a continued Covid-19 public health challenge through the winter".
These estimates were produced by researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, based on the current development where there are few effective Covid-19 treatment options and no vaccines yet available, Reuters reported.
IHME director Chris Murray, who co-led the research, said the projections, as well as currently rising infection rates and deaths, showed there is no basis to "the idea that the pandemic is going away".
He added: "We do not believe that is true."
A day before this research findings were released, President Donald Trump said in Thursday's election debate of the pandemic: "It's going away."
Projections beyond Feb. 1, 2021
The Friday update was the first time the IHME has projected deaths beyond Feb. 1, 2021.
Its current forecast on its website is for 386,000 deaths as of Feb. 1.
Covid-19 has killed more than 221,000 Americans so far.
The devastation of Covid-19 on the U.S. has become the top issue for him and Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 election.
The IHME study forecast that large, populous states such as California, Texas and Florida will likely face particularly high levels of illness, deaths and demands on hospital resources.
Universal mask-wearing could have a major impact on death rates.
Murray also said many U.S. states would need to re-introduce social distancing measures to curb the winter surge.
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