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It’s one of the great puzzles of the pandemic. Most developed economies are now highly vaccinated with some of the most effective shots on offer — so why are the latest COVID-19 outbreaks more deadly in some places than in others?

While it’s clear vaccines led to a drop in fatalities during the most recent delta variant-driven waves compared with earlier bouts with the virus, some countries saw deaths fall to a greater degree than others, an outcome scientists still don’t have answers for.

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