US registering highest deaths yet from the coronavirus; Brazil’s deaths top 200,000 amid a return to beaches; Pfizer study suggests vaccine works against virus variant


From The Associate Press


Media – The U.S. registered its highest deaths yet from the coronavirus on the very day the mob attack on the Capitol laid bare some of the same, deep political divisions that have hampered the battle against the pandemic.

The virus is surging relentlessly in virtually every state, Carla K. Johnson and Lisa Marie Pane report.


California is particularly hard-hit, with skyrocketing deaths and infections threatening to force hospitals to ration care. The same day that Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, the nation recorded nearly 3,900 deaths. Trump and his followers have resisted efforts to social distance or wear masks to slow the spread.


Brazil Deaths: South America’s largest nation has seen its virus deaths surpass 200,000, pushing the second highest toll in the world higher even as its citizens are again crowding their beaches. Many Brazilians have been straining against quarantine for months, going to bars or small gatherings with friends, though big blowouts had been few and far between since the pandemic began. But while many countries imposed new restrictions to limit the spread of the virus in mid-December, Brazil’s government gave its blessing for holiday fun in the sun. Festivities kicked off after the Southern Hemisphere’s summer started Dec. 21. Mauricio Savarese and Diane Jeantet report from Sao Paulo.


Czech Crematorium Full: The biggest crematorium in the Czech Republic has been overwhelmed by mounting numbers of pandemic victims. With new confirmed infections around record highs, the situation looks set to worsen. Authorities in the northeastern city of Ostrava have been speeding up plans to build a fourth furnace but, in the meantime, have sought help from the government. These days, the crematorium receives more than 100 coffins daily, about double its maximum cremation capacity. Karel Janicek reports.


Vaccine Variant: New research suggests the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech can still work against a mutated coronavirus. Two highly contagious new variants of the virus have the world on edge. One was first discovered in Britain, the other in South Africa, but they share one common mutation. Pfizer researchers say laboratory testing shows that mutation doesn’t block the vaccine. But more tests are needed to see if an additional mutation is cause for concern, Lauran Neergaard reports.




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