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New Change Reported

A new SARS-CoV-2 gene variant has been identified in the UK, Reuters reports.

It adds that UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the variant has been identified in more than 1,000 cases, particularly in southern England. 

The Guardian reports that Hancock told Parliament that the variant was identified through genomic analyses and could be linked to increased spread in the region, but that there is no evidence that the variant is associated with more severe disease. "But it shows we've got to be vigilant and follow the rules and everyone needs to take personal responsibility not to spread this virus," he added, according to the Guardian. BBC News adds London and some nearby areas are moving to tier three restrictions — the highest level — on Wednesday, which entails restaurants and pubs closing or shifting to to-go or delivery orders and places limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings.

The World Health Organization's Mike Ryan said during a briefing that the agency was aware of the variant, Reuters reports. "Authorities are looking at its significance," he added. "We have seen many variants, this virus evolves and changes over time."

In September, for instance, researchers at Houston Methodist Hospital found that a strain with a Gly614 change outspread other strains.

The Scan

Interfering With Invasive Mussels

The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers are studying whether RNA interference- or CRISPR-based approaches can combat invasive freshwater mussels.

Participation Analysis

A new study finds that women tend to participate less at scientific meetings but that some changes can lead to increased involvement, the Guardian reports.

Right Whales' Decline

A research study plans to use genetic analysis to gain insight into population decline among North American right whales, according to CBC.

Science Papers Tie Rare Mutations to Short Stature, Immunodeficiency; Present Single-Cell Transcriptomics Map

In Science this week: pair of mutations in one gene uncovered in brothers with short stature and immunodeficiency, and more.