• 7 days ago
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500,000 deaths approaching, amid global signs of hope
The U.S. neared 500,000 known coronavirus-related deaths on Monday, a staggering toll that is higher than that in any country in the world.
In a single year, Covid-19 became a leading cause of death in the United States, rivaling heart disease and cancer, and has driven life expectancy down sharply. More Americans have died from Covid-19 than they did during World Wars I and II and the Vietnam War combined.
We have been covering the people we’ve lost and the grief that has touched every corner of America. The grief “never goes away,” said the nephew of Moses Jones in Chicago. “She would have done so much,” said the mother of Helen Etuk, a college student in North Texas on the path to becoming a pediatrician.
But it comes amid some hopeful news: New cases, hospitalizations and deaths around the world have slowed drastically. Experts attribute the progress to increased adherence to social distancing and mask wearing, the seasonality of the virus and a buildup of natural immunity among groups with high rates of existing infection.
It’s a window of opportunity to vaccinate widely and prevent more deaths, even as worries mount about contagious new variants. “We see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s still a long tunnel,” said Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiologist at Columbia University.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:

■ The chief executive of the Serum Institute of India said the dozens of countries that ordered its Covid-19 vaccines should prepare for shipment delays, because he had been “directed” to fill domestic orders first.

■ As France raced to plan its vaccination campaign, the government quietly issued millions of euros in contracts to the consulting giant McKinsey & Company. The contracts, which were not initially disclosed to the public, have prompted debate in a country where the Civil Service is expected to manage public affairs, and private-sector involvement is viewed with wariness.

■ Early data from Scotland’s vaccination campaign showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine reduced the risk of Covid-19 hospital admissions by up to 94 percent. The Pfizer vaccine lowered the risk of hospital admissions by 85 percent, with protection somewhat reduced over longer periods.
The New York Times
Me: AstraZeneca vaccine in Africa was 10% effective and the African’s stopped using it – so who do you believe?