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US lawmakers and officials continue to debate whether the US should engage with China on scientific matters, Nature's News Blog reports. John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, argued at a hearing yesterday that by working with China, the US can encourage the country to change, while Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said detachment would show that the US opposes a number of China's policies.

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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.