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Coronavirus update: two million deaths, another variant found in Germany

The World Health Organization has thrown cold water on the idea of a ‘vaccination passport’

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

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 24,087,284 (23,952,960)

Total U.S. deaths: 399,264 (397,672)

Total global cases: 95,703,104 (95, 179,173)

Total global deaths: 2,044,445 (2,033,641)

Two million deaths and counting

Over the long holiday weekend, the worldwide death toll from the coronavirus (COVID-19) passed the 2 million mark. Today the U.S. death toll is close to 400,000.

In fact, the U.S. has by far recorded the largest number of COVID-19 deaths of any country. The second-largest number of deaths attributed to the virus is in Brazil with 210,000 deaths.

China, where the virus originated, has recorded only 4,700 deaths since the pandemic began. The U.S. daily death toll is getting close to that number.

Second variant of the coronavirus found in Germany

Health officials expressed concern, a few weeks ago, when a variant of the coronavirus was found in the U.K. Now, a second variant has been found at a hospital in Germany.

The slightly different form of the virus was discovered in 35 of 73 newly-infected people at a hospital in Bavaria. Samples are reportedly being studied at the Charité University Hospital in Berlin.

Officials said the variant is different from the recently discovered variant in the U.K. and South Africa, which is no more deadly than the original but is said to spread more easily.

WHO opposes ‘vaccination passport’ idea

The World Health Organization (WHO) has gone on the record opposing a proposal floated in some countries to create “vaccination passports” for people who have received the coronavirus vaccine.

The objective is to allow people who have received the vaccine to return to normal life faster and make travel easier. However, the WHO says that could be unwise.

“Being vaccinated should not exempt international travelers from complying with other travel risk reduction measures,” the WHO Emergency Committee stressed during its recent meeting.

Biden won’t lift travel ban

The outgoing Trump administration and incoming Biden administration are at odds over restrictions placed on travelers entering the U.S. from certain countries. Hours after Trump said the restrictions would be lifted, a spokeswoman for Biden said they wouldn’t.

“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” tweeted President-elect Joe Biden’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

The current policy bans entry on most people traveling from the UK., Europe, and Brazil.

Blood pressure medicine a non-factor in COVID-19

If you take common blood pressure medicine, you may have been concerned about reports that it could make you more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus. Researchers say it’s not true.

The UCLA scientists found that there was no increased risk of COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalization, or subsequent complications for users of either angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs)

“People with hypertension have worse COVID-19 outcomes, and there remains speculation that some anti-hypertensive medications may be detrimental,” said lead researcher Dr. Marc Suchard. “The clear answer is that ACE inhibitors and ARBs pose no increased risk as compared to other treatments.”

Around the nation

Massachusetts: Businesses throughout the state that survived with the help of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans last year are facing a painful reality. While the U.S. government is not taxing those forgiven loans, the state of Massachusetts is.

Nebraska: State health officials have delivered some positive news amid the rising cases of the virus. The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus in the state has dropped to 429, the lowest number in nearly three months.

Oregon: Routine screening has identified someone at the University of Portland with the mutant version of the coronavirus. The person, who had no symptoms, was quickly quarantined. State health officials say it’s likely there are other cases in the state.

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