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In the PNAS Early Edition this week, an international research collaboration led by Chengjun Li at the University of Wisconsin-Madison describes their finding that genetic reassortment between the avian H5N1 and human H3N2 flu viruses causes hybrid strains with substantial virulence. To evaluate the pathogenic potential of these reassortant viruses, Li et al. created all 254 possible hybrids of H5N1 and H3N2 by using reverse genetics.

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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.