A widely cited model from the University of Washington predicts worsening outbreaks as winter returns to many parts of the world, with daily deaths expected to reach as high as 30,000 deaths during December.
The global Covid-19 death toll could reach 2.8 million by January 1, about 1.9 million more from now until the end of the year.
Mask mandates and social distancing could save hundreds of thousands of lives, but there is "a tremendous amount of COVID fatigue" among the world's government leaders because of economic downturns, said Dr Christopher Murray of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
He added: "We are facing the prospect of a deadly December, especially in Europe, Central Asia, and the United States. But the science is clear and the evidence irrefutable: mask-wearing, social distancing, and limits to social gatherings are vital to helping prevent transmission of the virus."
The IHME model projects the wave will peak in the United States in early December at about 2,900 deaths per day. India, the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Japan will lead the world in total deaths by January 1, according to the forecast.