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Oct. 20, 2021, 7:20 a.m. EDT

U.S. COVID-19 death toll tops 726,000 amid report FDA is set to allow mix-and-match vaccine booster shots

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Ciara Linnane

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See now (from September):  WHO warns lack of COVID-19 vaccine supply in Africa could make it breeding ground for new variants and ‘send the whole world back to Square 1’

Ukraine also suffered a record one-day death toll of 538, Radio Free Europe reported. Overall, 61,348 Ukrainians have died of the virus to date.

Romania also set a new-case record of 18,863 cases in a day, and a record of 574 deaths, the government said. Last week, a group of Romanian doctors wrote an open letter pleading with Romanians to get their shots as healthcare workers and hospitals are overwhelmed by the number of sick patients.

Latvia will enter into a nearly monthlong lockdown, including a curfew, on Thursday due to the worsening coronavirus situation in the Baltic country, where the vaccination rate is among the lowest in the European Union, the Associated Press reported.

See now:   FDA to hold advisory committee for Merck’s experimental COVID-19 pill

Don’t miss:  The success of Merck’s antiviral — and other COVID-19 pills in development — may depend on how quickly people start taking them

Latest tallies

The global tally for the coronavirus-borne illness climbed above 241.2 million on Tuesday, while the death toll edged above 4.9 million, according to  data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University .

The U.S. continues to lead the world with a total of 45 million cases and 726,274 deaths. 

India is second by cases after the U.S. at 34 million and has suffered 452,454 deaths. Brazil has the second highest death toll at 603,465 and 21.7 million cases.

In Europe, Russia has most fatalities at 221,314, mostly due to a low vaccination rate, followed by the U.K. at 139,042.

China,  where the virus was first discovered late in 2019,  has had 108,961 confirmed cases and 4,809 deaths, according to its official numbers, which are widely held to be massively underreported.

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