Quarter of Europeans have had a Covid-19 jab


A quarter of the European Union’s population have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine jab, prompting EU chief Ursula von der Leyen to say the bloc is on track to have 70 percent of adults immunised by late July.

The milestone showed that Europe was now surging ahead in vaccinations following a lacklustre first-quarter rollout that was starved of doses because of a shortfall in deliveries by AstraZeneca.

As of mid-Tuesday, 25.1 percent of the EU’s population of 446 million had received at least one injection, according to an AFP tally collated from official health figures from each EU country.

“Vaccination is gaining speed across the EU: we have just passed 150 million vaccinations,” von der Leyen tweeted.

“A quarter of all Europeans have had their first dose. We’ll have enough doses for vaccinating 70% of EU adults in July.”

AFP’s collected data show 112 million people in Europe had received at least one jab, with more than 153.8 million doses administered. At least 41.9 million people were fully vaccinated, amounting to 9.4 percent of the population.

The heightened pace means the EU can expect to see 70 percent of its 365 million adults immunised by late July.

That target has been brought forward two months, largely because of sped-up deliveries of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, accounting for a large proportion of the jabs given in the 27 EU countries.

Poorer countries struggling

The EU has started legal action against AstraZeneca for falling far short of its promised delivery of doses.

It has thrown its weight behind the mRNA technology used by BioNTech/Pfizer, holding negotiations for an extra 1.8 billion doses of its second-generation vaccine to cope with variants, inoculate older children, and to export to non-EU countries in need.

While the EU is now bounding forward with its vaccination programme, it still trails wealthy countries the United States and Britain in administering injections. All three invested funds last year to ensure access to promising vaccines.

The US has 31.9 percent of its population completely vaccinated. In Britain, it is 22.8 percent.

Israel, which has led the world, has 58.5 percent of its relatively small population fully vaccinated.

Poorer countries, by contrast, are struggling to get their hands on doses for their own populations, although the World Health Organization-backed Covax facility is working to bring them deliveries—mostly of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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Bride-to-be told music in her head was stress actually had a brain tumour

When Emma Bond noticed some music playing while visiting a hospital as part of her job, she thought it was odd they would be playing tunes there.

She had no idea the sounds she was hearing were in her head, and actually a sign of a brain tumour.

The 29-year-old, from Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, was planning her wedding to fiancé Edd Blake and when she went to the doctor to talk about what she was experiencing, it was put down to stress.

When she eventually had more tests, doctors found the tumour and she had to undergo surgery two days before she was due to get married.

Emma, who works for a health care company which makes respiratory products, first noticed the symptoms in June 2019.

She said: ‘I had just done some training on a device for one ward and I went to introduce myself to another ward and as I went to the desk I started hearing music in my head.

‘I think it was the geriatric ward and I was thinking “why are they playing this music on the ward?”.

‘I was really confused and I had to walk outside. I was thinking “what was that?”‘

Asked to describe what the music was like, Emma said: ‘This is going to sound weird but when it was happening, I knew the song, I could hear it and felt I had heard it before.

‘But I cannot even speak what it was saying – it was very strange.

‘The only thing I really remember was why would they be playing this kind of music on a geriatric ward – I must have been thinking it was like Kanye West or something like that.

‘It would be in my head for about 30 seconds and then it would go.’

Emma started to hear the music again over the next few days so went to A&E but was told she was suffering from stress and the doctor advised her to take some time off work.

Emma said: ‘The first few times it happened were the worst, it was quite scary. I was thinking I’m not stressed, there’s something going on.

‘I could hear music but when people were responding to me I also thought they were also singing the lyrics to the song.’

She continued to hear music several times a day and so her GP booked her in for a scan at Whiston Hospital.

The scans led to a referral to The Walton Centre where they discovered Emma had a grade two brain tumour.

The surgery, two days before her planned wedding date, was a success as surgeons were able to remove 95% of the tumour, and the operation was followed up with radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Once the tumour was gone, the music in her head stopped.

Despite her experience, Emma wasn’t put off listening to music – something that was helped by her friends and family choosing her Spotify playlist while she was undergoing radiotherapy.

Emma said: ‘The very last songs on the list chosen by my dad was Chumbawamba’s I Get Knocked Down But I Get Up Again [Tubthumping] and You’ll Never Walk Alone.’

The couple decided to dedicate 2020 to raising money for The Walton Centre and Clatterbridge Hospital in Bebington, where she was treated.

Edd said: ‘I was so grateful for all the support both The Walton Centre and Clatterbridge were giving Emma, I just had to do something.

‘So we came up with the crazy idea of me running a mile a day for a year and fundraise as we go.

‘I’ve been overwhelmed with the support we’ve had from friends, family, colleagues and beyond, it’s been amazing.’

Edd completed his challenge on December 31, totalling 366 miles. So far they have raised more than £8,500 and they’re aiming for £10,000 before they close the appeal in March.

You can donate to the fund here.

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13.4% of studies in top nutrition journals in 2018 had food industry ties

A new analysis of studies published by top nutrition journals in 2018 shows that 13.4 percent disclosed involvement from the food industry, and studies with industry involvement were more likely to report results favorable to industry interests. Gary Sacks of Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on December 16.

Food companies might choose to become involved in nutrition research to help generate new knowledge. For instance, they might provide funding for academic research or assign employees to research teams. However, growing evidence suggests that food industry involvement could potentially bias nutrition research towards food industry interests, perhaps at the expense of public health.

To better understand the extent and potential impact of food industry involvement in research, Sacks and colleagues assessed all peer-reviewed papers published in 2018 in the top 10 most-cited academic journals related to nutrition and diet. They evaluated which papers had food industry ties, such as funding from food companies or authors affiliated with food companies, and noted whether results supported industry interests.

The analysis found that 13.4 percent of all analyzed articles reported involvement from the food industry (196/1,461), with some journals having a greater proportion of involvement than others. Compared to a random sample of studies without food industry involvement (n = 196), studies with industry involvement were over five times more likely to report results that favored food industry interests; 55.6 percent compared to 9.7 percent.

These findings add to mounting evidence that industry involvement could bias research agendas or findings towards industry interests, while potentially neglecting topics that are more important to public health. The authors of this study suggest several mechanisms that could be explored to prevent the food industry from compromising the integrity of nutrition research.

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Do you need a COVID-19 vaccine if you’ve already had the virus?

First COVID-19 vaccinations begin in US

Reaction from Dr. Marty Makary on ‘America’s Newsroom.’

The long-awaited moment has finally arrived: The first doses of the highly anticipated coronavirus vaccine are officially here, with the very first jab administered on Monday to a critical care nurse in New York.

The rollout of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine comes just days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) OK’d the companies’ request for emergency use, making it the first vaccine against the virus to receive such approval. 

“We do know that people who have had COVID will have immunity for a period of months to years. We just don’t know how long,” said Dr. John Whyte, the chief medical officer of the health care website WebMD, in an email to Fox News.

The FDA is set to meet next Thursday to review the Moderna vaccine. A third candidate, from Johnson & Johnson, which would require just one dose, is working its way through the pipeline. Behind that is a candidate from AstraZeneca and Oxford University. U.S. health experts are hoping a combination of vaccines will ultimately enable the U.S. to conquer the outbreak.

“This is the beginning of the end,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams of the vaccine rollout during an appearance on “Fox and Friends” on Monday. 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that the vaccine first go to health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities, with other groups — such as those 65 years of age and older and those with certain preexisting health conditions — likely to be included in the coming rounds. 

But a muddled question remains: should those who have already contracted the novel coronavirus and recovered from it receive the vaccine? In short: It’s not totally clear — yet. But from what we do know, many experts are suggesting yes. 

“We do know that people who have had COVID will have immunity for a period of months to years. We just don't know how long,” said Dr. John Whyte, the chief medical officer of the health care website WebMD, in an email to Fox News. 


He noted that if the novel virus, SARS-CoV-2, is like other coronaviruses, “it may be a couple of years,” he said of immunity. 

Indeed: a study published in November —  said to be the most comprehensive to date — suggested that immunity against the virus could last for at least six months, or perhaps a matter of years.

“We also think that immunity from the vaccine may be stronger than getting COVID and recovering,” added Whyte. 

“Given limited resources, I expect that people who have had COVID will be ‘last in line’ since they have some protection compared to people who have had none,” he continued. 


In a Dec. 13 post — made just one day before the widespread rollout of the Pfizer vaccine — the CDC said that people who have already contracted and recovered from the deadly virus “may be advised to get a COVID-19 vaccine even if they have been sick with COVID-19 before.” 

The federal health agency cited the “severe health risks” associated with the disease as a reason, as well as the possibility of re-infection. 

“At this time, experts do not know how long someone is protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. The immunity someone gains from having an infection, called natural immunity, varies from person to person. Some early evidence suggests natural immunity may not last very long,” the CDC continued.

"We won’t know how long immunity produced by vaccination lasts until we have a vaccine and more data on how well it works,” it added. “Both natural immunity and vaccine-induced immunity are important aspects of COVID-19 that experts are trying to learn more about, and CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.”


Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, spoke to this issue last week during a fireside chat with the Aspen Institue. 

When responding to a question if there could be any adverse side effects from taking the COVID vaccine after having contracted the virus, Messonnier said there was both a “theoretical response” and “practical response.”

“The scientists who know about this disease have worried about this — they don’t believe there is a serious harm [in taking the vaccine if you have already had and recovered from the virus],” she said. 

“Practically, in the clinical trial, I understand that they excluded people who were infected at the moment that they enrolled in the trial, that there were some people in the clinical trial who had COVID in the past and they had antibody levels — and that is certainly something that the scientist who are going to be reviewing this data are going to be looking for,” she continued. 


An estimated 10% of volunteers in the Pfizer and Moderna trials were thought to have been previously infected, though both companies didn’t actively recruit those who were symptomatic or had a known infection, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief science adviser for Operation Warp Speed, previously said.

“Equally important as the question is, ‘What does this mean down the road? How do I know how long the vaccine is going to last and is it going to protect me forever?’ The truth is, we don’t know that — and this is not surprising. There are always things that we don’t know at the moment a vaccine is authorized and licensed. A clinical trial, as big as it is, is different [from] rolling out the vaccine to the entire public. That’s why it’s so important to study the vaccine — so we’re going to be carefully studying this vaccine to see how well it works in the public once implemented and also to be looking at those important questions,” added Messonnier during the fireside chat. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, had a more direct answer when speaking to this topic during a conversation with the Milken Institue last week. 


“The answer is yes,” Fauci said of COVID-19 survivors receiving the vaccine. “Once you get infected with the virus, it isn’t certain how long that protection will be or whether or not you amounted good protection. So it isn’t a contraindication against the vaccine if you’ve already been infected.” 

As of Monday morning, all 50 states plus the District of Columbia have reported confirmed cases of COVID-19, tallying more than 16,256,812 illnesses and at least 299,181 deaths.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Chicago neighborhoods with barriers to social distancing had higher COVID-19 death rates

New research has found that Chicago neighborhoods with barriers to social distancing, including limited access to broadband internet and low rates of health insurance, had more COVID-19 deaths in spring 2020. The study, led by researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago, is published in the Annals of Epidemiology.

“We wanted to look at neighborhood characteristics that may contribute to higher death rates in certain neighborhoods in Chicago,” said Molly Scannell Bryan, a research assistant professor at the UIC Institute for Minority Health Research and corresponding author on the paper. “We originally expected that air quality and use of public transportation would be drivers, but we found that heightened barriers to being able to social distance, such as low or lack of internet access, was a more significant driver of COVID-19-related deaths, possibly through a higher risk of infection in those without internet access.”

COVID-19 is the illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which emerged in fall 2019 and declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020. In the United States, over 270,000 Americans have died of the disease.

The researchers sought to identify patterns in the census tracts with high rates of COVID-19 mortality in Chicago during the spring and early summer of 2020.

They looked at 33 neighborhood characteristics for each census-tract. Chicago has almost 1,000 census tracts, each with approximately 4,000 people.

Neighborhood descriptors were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and information on COVID-19 deaths was obtained from the Office of the Medical Examiner of Cook County. Highly localized estimates of air quality, including nitrogen dioxide, ozone and very fine particulate matter, were obtained from colleagues at Northwestern University.

Between March 16 and July 22, 2,514 COVID-19 deaths were recorded in Chicago.

The data revealed that COVID-19 death rates in Chicago showed similar racial disparities to those seen nationwide. Although non-Hispanic Black residents comprise 31% of Chicago’s population, they accounted for 42% of the COVID-19 deaths. Deaths among Hispanic/Latino residents occurred at a younger age—63 years, compared with 71 for white residents.

After focusing on deaths that occurred outside of nursing homes, the researchers found that higher COVID-19 mortality was seen in neighborhoods with heightened barriers to social distancing and low health insurance coverage. Neighborhoods with a higher percentage of white and Asian residents had lower COVID-19 mortality. Mortality among white residents was highest in neighborhoods with lower educational attainment and a higher percentage of Hispanic/Latino residents. Among whites, mortality was lower in neighborhoods with a higher percentage of white or Asian residents.

“Barriers to social distancing really jumped out as a major driver of mortality, likely through increased risk of infection,” Scannell Bryan said. “Neighborhoods where residents do not have internet at home means residents are more likely to need to leave the house more often and come into contact with more people outside the home. In the spring, when there were such high levels of community spread, this would have put those people at higher risk.”

The researchers also found that while the overall death rate was higher among Black residents, no neighborhood characteristics were associated with COVID-19 death rates among Black residents specifically. In contrast, among white residents, neighborhood characteristics seemed to matter.

“We saw that white residents who died clustered in neighborhoods with higher levels of social vulnerability, whereas Black and Hispanic/Latino residents who died lived in neighborhoods with both high and low levels of social vulnerability.

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Joe Biden Says He's Had a Stutter All His Life—Here's Why It Can Be So Hard to Overcome This Speech Disorder

A stutter can be an extremely debilitating and frustrating speech disorder, but it hasn’t held Joe Biden back. In December 2019, Biden revealed on Twitter that he had worked his whole life to overcome a stutter, and has mentored kids with the same speech disorder. 

During a presidential-primary debate in Atlanta in November 2019, Biden stuttered several times. Shortly afterward, he spoke to The Atlantic about living with a stutter since he was a young boy, telling writer John Hendrickson, who also has a stutter, that it “can’t define who you are.”

What is stuttering, exactly? 

Stuttering (sometimes called stammering or disfluent speech) is characterized by repetition, prolongation (extending the duration) of sounds, and interruptions in speech known as blocks, per the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). A person who stutters knows exactly what they want to stay, but has difficulty with the flow of the words. In some cases, they may experience rapid eye blinks or lip tremors alongside the stuttering. 

“The signs and symptoms of stuttering are easily recognizable,” Avivit Ben-Aharon MS Ed, founder and clinical director of Great Speech Inc., tells Health. “Stutterers tend to repeat syllables, parts of words, and make some words or sounds longer. Some stutterers can produce words but with excessive physical difficulty.” 

The NIDCD says stuttering is most common in children between ages 2 and 6—which is the period when they’re developing language skills. Around 95% of children who stutter show signs of it before the age of 5, Ben-Aharon says. Boys are up to three times as likely to stutter as girls, a difference that becomes even greater as they get older. 

According to The Stuttering Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports those who stutter, stuttering affects roughly 70 million people (that’s about 1% of the population)—3 million of them live in the United States.

What causes stuttering? 

It's not known for sure, but it’s likely to be a combination of multiple factors. “Recent research indicates that genetics, family history (often male), neuromuscular development, and the child’s environment, including family dynamics, all play a role in the onset of stuttering,” Ben-Aharon says. 

The Stuttering Foundation says approximately 60% of people who stutter have a family member who actively stutters, or used to. (Biden’s uncle on his mother’s side—known as “Uncle Boo-Boo”—stuttered his whole life, Biden told The Atlantic.)

Although emotional problems and parenting don’t appear to cause stuttering, environmental factors and speaking demands may increase or decrease stuttering, Ben-Aharon adds. Stress too can exacerbate it, but isn’t considered a cause. 

How can stuttering be managed?

Although there’s no cure for stuttering, lots of treatment options are available, including stuttering therapy, drug therapy, self-help groups, and electronic devices to help control fluency, such as a device that fits into the ear canal (just like a hearing aid) and digitally replays a slightly altered version of the person’s voice into their ear so that it sounds as if their speech is in sync with someone else’s.

“If stuttering persists in children for more than six months, speech therapy is generally needed to learn strategies and techniques that are helpful in managing their stuttering, Ben-Aharon says. “The therapeutic process focuses on relaxation and breathing strategies to reduce tension as well as slowing down the rate of speech to minimize the dysfluency.” 

Does a stutter ever go away on its own? 

The NIDCD says approximately 75% of children outgrow stuttering. However, the longer someone stutters, the less likely they are to make a full recovery. According to The Stuttering Foundation, no more than a quarter of people who still stutter at 10 will be completely free from the disorder in adulthood. And children who continue to stutter may have the disorder for the rest of their lives—like Biden. 

“Whether a child who stutters continues stuttering through the adult years often depends on the age the child begins to stutter and whether there is a family history of stuttering,” Ben-Aharon explains.  

How does stuttering affect a person’s mental health?

So much of our lives rely on communication with others, so stuttering can have a huge impact on quality of life and interpersonal relationships. Also, the stigma attached to it may negatively influence job performance and opportunities. 

“Stuttering can affect socialization, causing anxiety and depression in those who are struggling to communicate,” Ben-Aharon adds. “When individuals who stutter feel rushed or sense the impatience of others who try to finish their sentences, their anxiety often increases—while their inclination to socialize decreases.”

Ben-Aharon finds that some people don’t seem to be impacted emotionally by their stuttering, while others see it as a challenge to overcome. “They embrace the techniques and strategies offered through speech therapy to maximize communication,” she says. “And in our practice, we are noticing greater acceptability around stuttering and less of our patients are reporting bullying or negative responses in school.”

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Singer Amy Grant Just Had Open Heart Surgery To Treat A Rare Condition Called PAPVR

  • Christian singer Amy Grant had open heart surgery to treat a rare heart condition.
  • She was recently diagnosed with partial anomalous pulmonary venous return (PAPVR).
  • Because PAPVR is a congenital abnormality, Amy has had this condition since birth.

Singer Amy Grant shared some surprising news with fans this week: She just underwent open heart surgery to correct a rare heart condition called partial anomalous pulmonary venous return (PAPVR) that she’s had since birth.

“Thank you for all the prayers today! Amy’s heart surgery went well and she is recovering in the care of a great team of doctors. More updates to come,” a rep for Amy wrote in a post shared on Amy’s Instagram account on Thursday.


The “Every Heartbeat” singer had heart surgery on Wednesday to fix her rare heart condition PAPVR, which her doctor discovered earlier this year, People reported.

PAPVR is a congenital abnormality (meaning someone is born with it) where some of the pulmonary veins connect to the right atrium of the heart. This can cause blood that’s rich in oxygen to flow back to the lungs, instead of to the rest of the body, according to University of Wisconsin-Madison Health’s website. That can lead to symptoms like shortness of breath during heavy exercise.

“She had open heart surgery to correct a condition from birth the doctors discovered during a heart checkup called PAPVR,” Amy’s publicist told People. “Thankfully the doctor said it could not have gone better.”

Amy first shared news of her condition back in February in a statement on Twitter. At the time, she said that her doctor recommended she have her heart health checked out due to her family history. After a “battery of tests,” she was given a diagnosis that she didn’t share at the time. Amy also said at the time that she was “completely asymptomatic” and that her condition was “fixable.” “Instead of concerts and camping trips this summer, I am going to take care of my heart,” she wrote.

Fans were given a heads up on Facebook earlier this week that the surgery would be happening. “With all that is going on in our world that needs our collective prayer, please also join us in praying for Amy this week as she has heart surgery to correct her PAPVR condition,” her team wrote on Facebook.

Treatment for PAPVR is surgery under general anesthesia which, it seems, Amy had. During the surgery, the surgeon cuts open the patient’s breastbone and exposes the heart, according to UW Health. Blood from the heart is redirected to a bypass machine, while the doctor redirects blood flow from the anomalous pulmonary vein to the left atrium. Then, the bypass machine is shut down and the heart starts beating again.

Amy’s publicist told People that her team is “praying for a full and easy recovery over the next days, weeks, and months to come.”

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New York City had 24,000 'excess deaths', CDC report finds

Coronavirus blamed for 75% of New York City’s 24,000 ‘excess deaths’ as fatalities tripled the usual rate at the height of the outbreak, CDC report finds

  • Between March 11 and May 2, a total of 32,107 deaths were reported in New York
  • Researchers found that 24,172 were ‘excess’, three times the typical number of 7,935 usually reported during this time
  • The excess deaths included about 14,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 5,048 probable COVID-19 deaths
  • The CDC says the high number of excess deaths may be linked to people with pre-existing conditions or those who waited to seek life-saving medical care
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

The number of people who died in New York City during the height of the coronavirus pandemic is more than triple what would be expected in a normal year, a new report finds.   

Between March 11 and May 2, there were more than 24,000 ‘excess deaths’, compared to years prior, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed on Monday. 

That means, in a typical year, there are about 8,000 deaths during the same period.

More than three-quarters of those deaths were associated with COVID-19, the highly-infectious disease caused by the virus.  

Between March 11 and May 2, a total of 32,107 deaths were reported in New York and 24,000 were found to be ‘excess,’ a new CDC report reveals (pictured)

The excess deaths included about 14,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and 5,048 probable COVID-19 deaths.Pictured: Ventilator tubes attached to a coronavirus patient in the ICU of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New  York, NY, April 24

The CDC says the high number of excess deaths may be linked to people with pre-existing conditions or those who waited to seek life-saving medical care. Pictured: A COVID-19 patient, in a medically induced coma, is connected to life-sustaining devices at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, NY, April 14

Excess deaths are defined as over and above the number of people that would have died anyway – the typical mortality rate of a population.  

For the report, the researchers looked at mortality data from January 1, 2015 through May 2, 2020. 

Next, the team calculated the difference between the seasonal number of expected deaths and the number of all deaths.

A total of 32,107 deaths were reported to New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene over the study period. 

Of that number, 24,172 were found to ‘excess’, three times the typical number of 7,935 that usually occur during the two-month window.  

The excess deaths included nearly 14,000 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19-associated deaths and 5,048 probable COVID-19–associated deaths. 

According to the CDC, the high number of excess deaths might be due to the added risk of coronavirus in people with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes.

Additionally, the researchers say that due to social distancing measures and the increasing demand place on hospitals, people may have delayed seeking life-saving medical care. 

The 5,000 deaths not linked to the virus are likely from other pathogens circulating during the 2019-20 flu season. 

‘Tracking excess mortality is important to understanding the contribution to the death rate from both COVID-19 disease and the lack of availability of care for non-COVID conditions,’ the authors concluded. 

The report comes on the heels of a joint investigation by Yale University and The Washington Post, which found there were 15,400 ‘excess deaths’ that occurred between March 1 and April 4. 

According the study, pre-printed on medRxiv.org, there were 280,016 total deaths  over the five-week period.

Of those, 15,400 were deemed excess deaths due to pneumonia and influenza.

The researchers say the preliminary findings suggest many more Americans may have died of coronavirus than previously believed.  

In the US, there are currently more than 1.3 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 80,000 deaths. 

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