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Over at Buried Treasure, Lars Juhl Jensen has a post evaluating scientific conferences that take place in virtual worlds such as Second Life. Jensen says his initial impression was that Second Life was "rather useless" -- over time, though, his view of its potential has grown more optimistic. There are still a number of technical challenges preventing this from becoming a really useful tool, he says.

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Moderna reports its vaccine is effective against new SARS-CoV-2 strains, though it is also developing a booster, according to the New York Times.

A new analysis suggests the B.1.1.7 strain of SARS-CoV-2 could be deadlier than previous ones, according to the Guardian.

NPR reports Merck is halting the development of its two candidate SARS-CoV-2 vaccines following disappointing Phase 1 results.

In PLOS this week: gene mutation linked to inherited venous thrombosis, lncRNA patterns in the Asian tiger mosquito, and more.