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Called Back Up

The US is reconvening its National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity panel, ScienceInsider reports. This move comes on the heels of revelations of lab safety mistakes involving anthrax, influenza, and smallpox.

However, the panel will reunite with 11 of its 23 members as the others have been dismissed. In an email Sunday, Mary Groesch from the US National Institutes of Health informed those members that "a new slate of NSABB members [had] been approved as [their] replacements."

"We had no inkling it was going to happen this way," Northern Arizona University's Paul Keim, an inaugural panel member and former NSABB chair, tells ScienceInsider.

The panel was formed in 2005 and most recently grappled with the consequences of publishing dual-use research like that of an influenza strain developed to be more transmissible through the air. One panel member notes that the panel last met in November 2012.

"I hope that the US government effectively uses the NSABB to address the shortcomings associated with the three incidents," Keim adds.

The Scan

Panel Votes for COVID-19 Pill

A US Food and Drug Administration panel has voted to support the emergency use authorization of an antiviral pill for COVID-19 from Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, CNN says.

But Not Harm

New Scientist reports that UK bioethicists say that though gene editing may improve food production, it should not harm livestock welfare.

Effectiveness Drop Anticipated

Moderna's Stéphane Bancel predicts that that current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines may be less effective against the Omicron variant, the Financial Times reports.

Cell Studies of Human Chromatin Accessibility, SARS-CoV-2 Variants, Cell Signaling Networks

In Cell this week: chromatin accessibility maps of adult human tissues, modeling to track SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, and more.