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The Scan

President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Eric Lander to serve as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Associated Press says.

What's It Called?

Nature News writes that scientists are trying to figure out how to name the new strains of SARS-CoV-2 that are emerging.

Twin COVID-19 Studies

The New York Times reports that researchers are studying identical twins who had COVID-19 to understand the influence of genetics on disease severity.

In PNAS this week: epistasis affecting cystic fibrosis, Tiger rattlesnake genome gives venom insight, and more.

Reuters reports that Germany is seeking to sequence 5 percent of patient samples that test positive for SARS-CoV-2.

The publisher of the Science family of journals will allow some authors to place peer-reviewed versions of their papers into publicly accessible repositories.

Getting Used to It

23andMe and Medscape say primary care physicians are increasingly more comfortable with discussing direct-to-consumer genetic testing results.

In Science this week: analysis of genome-wide association studies of chronic kidney disease, and more.

Johnson & Johnson reports interim results from a Phase 1/2 study of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in the New England Journal of Medicine, according to Bloomberg.

Moderna says it would be able to quickly update its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to address new genetic variants if needed, MIT's Technology Review reports.

WHO Team Arrives

Investigators from the World Health Organization have arrived in China to look into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, NPR reports.

In Nature this week: a new method for high-throughput amplicon sequencing, and more.

More Variants to Come

Additional, more contagious variants of SARS-CoV-2 are likely to crop up, the Financial Times says.

According to CNN, Brazil has announced that a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac has a lower effectiveness rate than initially thought.

COVID Among Gorillas

Western lowland gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, according to NBC7 San Diego.

In Genome Research this week: transcriptome analysis of canine mammary tumors, collection of small RNAs found in disease-spreading mosquitoes, and more.

The Guardian reports Public Health England is increasing its surveillance of a SARS-CoV-2 strain identified in South Africa.

A monoclonal antibody treatment from Eli Lilly may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease, the New York Times reports.

What's in the US?

The Washington Post reports there is no evidence that the rise in COVID-19 cases in the US is due to a particular strain, but notes scientists' ability to detect variants is limited. 

In PNAS this week: droplet-based mRNA sequencing strategy, secretome mouse model, and more.

BBC News says the UK is rolling out rapid COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic people despite concerns over its accuracy.

Still Seems to Work

The Associated Press reports a preliminary study suggests the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is effective against the new SARS-CoV-2 variant.

In Two

Bluebird Bio is splitting into two companies, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In PLOS this week: potential neuropsychiatric drug targets identified, analysis of foodborne pathogen genome, and more.

No National Approach

A lack of a national SARS-CoV-2 genome sequencing strategy is hindering the ability of the US to track and uncover emerging SARS-CoV-2 strains, according to the New York Times.


Researchers are developing a breath test to determine how severe patients' methylmalonic acidemia disease is, FierceBiotech reports.

NPR reports that vaccine developers are working on SARS-CoV-2 vaccines that are easier to store or administer than the current crop.

Reuters reports that France is to recommend that people under 55 who received one dose of AstraZeneca's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine receive a different vaccine for their second dose.