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Coronavirus Case Reported in US

One case of the novel coronavirus that is causing a pneumonia-like disease in Wuhan, China, has been reported in the US, the Los Angeles Times reports. The patient, who is being monitored and is in good condition, had just returned to the US from a trip to that affected region of China, it adds, noting that this is the farthest the virus has appeared to spread. 

 

Officials in China previously sequenced samples from affected patients to uncover the novel coronavirus, which has been dubbed 2019-nCoV. Initially officials said that the virus did not appear to be transmitted between people and could be traced to a live animal market, but the LA Times notes that Chinese officials have now said it appears to be passing between people. Vox adds that the World Health Organization has similarly said the virus appears to be transmitting from person to person. 

According to the New York Times, the WHO is weighing whether to declare this a "public health emergency of international concern." Tarik Jasarevic, a WHO spokesperson, notes there are many unanswered questions about the outbreak, including how many people may be infected with the virus, as some may be asymptomatic.

"The more you test, the more you will find people who are infected," Jasarevic tells the New York Times. "Testing is possible because China immediately shared the genetic sequence of the virus, and we have to give them credit for that." 

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.