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Coronavirus update: New clues about vaccine-induced blood clots, studies bolster vaccine confidence

Americans are putting more money away for retirement during the pandemic

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Photo (c) MR.Cole_Photographer - Getty Images
Coronavirus‌ ‌(COVID-19)‌ ‌tally‌ ‌as‌ ‌‌compiled‌‌ ‌by‌ ‌Johns‌ ‌Hopkins‌ ‌University.‌ ‌(Previous‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌in‌ ‌parentheses.)‌ 

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌confirmed‌ ‌cases:‌ 33,752,627 (33,724,923)‌

Total‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌deaths:‌ 606,015 (605,582)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌cases:‌ 184,803,266 (184,285,579)

Total‌ ‌global‌ ‌deaths:‌ 3,996,325 (3,987,062)‌

Scientists pinpoint cause of vaccine-induced blood clots

Canadian scientists investigating rare but serious blood clotting as the result of two vaccines believe they have an answer. They believe antibodies unleashed by the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines target amino acids in the blood that can result in clots.

The findings, published today in the journal Nature, could help doctors perform tests that predict which people might be vulnerable to the formation of blood clots. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine and AstraZeneca’s vaccine are similar, but blood clotting side effects have been more widespread for those inoculated by the latter.

The researchers reached their conclusions by analyzing blood samples taken from  AstraZeneca vaccine recipients. 

Studies show vaccines are effective against the Delta variant

More scientific evidence is accumulating that the three U.S.-approved vaccines are able to protect people from the emerging Delta variant, at least to some degree. But the studies show that not all of the treatments are equal. 

The Pfizer/BioNTech shot was found to be only 64% effective against the Delta variant. Moderna, which developed a vaccine based on the same technology, has reported a higher efficacy. Both are said to be effective at preventing hospitalization and death.

Preliminary research done on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine also shows that it is effective at blocking the Delta variant. However, scientists say the studies performed so far have only used a small number of samples.

Americans increased retirement savings during the pandemic

Despite the economic hardships caused by the pandemic, a new study shows that Americans did a great job of socking away money for retirement. According to Northwestern Mutual’s latest 2021 Planning & Progress Study, retirement savings over the last 12 months grew by 13% to more than $98,000.

The study also found that more than half of Americans in the survey said they are in “financial recovery mode,” with personal savings also increasing. There were many credit effects of the pandemic, including a significant decline in travel and entertainment spending.

"COVID-19 has dealt financial setbacks to so many Americans, but people are changing their behaviors and financial choices to meet those head-on," said Christian Mitchell, executive vice president & chief customer officer at Northwestern Mutual. "While we don't know what post-COVID life will look like, we're encouraged to see that people intend to hold on to the better financial habits they've developed during this challenging time."

Around the nation

  • Arizona: The state’s death toll from the virus hit 18,000 this week after health officials reported 21 additional deaths Tuesday along with 900 more confirmed COVID-19 cases. Arizona ranks 12th among states with the highest total of COVID-19 deaths.

  • Michigan: State health officials say they are stepping up efforts to increase the number of vaccinations. Michigan has administered more than 9 million doses of the vaccine, with 61.9% of people aged 16 and older having received at least one dose. Around 54.1% of 16+ residents are fully vaccinated.

  • Illinois: While the state has made impressive progress in containing the coronavirus, health officials say there are worrisome pockets where outbreaks are occurring, particularly along the border with Missouri. They say Region 4, which borders St. Louis, has seen a massive jump in positivity rates in recent weeks.

  • New Hampshire: Business leaders are complaining that restaurants around the state have missed out on federal grants to help them reopen. They report that 591 restaurants that applied for help didn’t receive anything at all, giving the state a grant approval rate of 41.4%.

  • Virginia: Weeks after dropping its COVID-19 restrictions, state health officials are suggesting that Virginians wear masks in indoor public spaces. They’re concerned because of the rapid spread of the Delta variant, which now accounts for 13% of new cases. Also, only 51% of the state’s residents are fully vaccinated.

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