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And Now Spreading in the US

The SARS-CoV-2 variant identified in the UK, dubbed B.1.1.7, is now spreading in the US, the Washington Post reports. It adds that this variant is suspected to be more easily transmitted than the original pandemic strain and could soon become the dominant strain circulating in the US.

A Scripps Research Institute-led team examined the prevalence of the strain in the US based on both the slightly different pattern of PCR testing results it gives and follow-up sequencing of those samples. In a preprint posted to MedRxiv, they report that the strain was introduced into the US numerous times since the end of November 2020 and that, given that many initial B.1.1.7 US cases were not linked to international travel, there appears to be community transmission of the strain.

They further report that while this strain is currently at a low frequency in the US, it appears to be doubling every week and a half, the Post notes.

"There could indeed be a very serious situation developing in a matter of months or weeks," Nicholas Davies, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who was not involved in the study, tells the New York Times. "These may be early signals warranting urgent investigation by public health authorities."

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.