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B.1.1.7 Now Common in US

The B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2 is now the most common variant in the US, CNN reports.

"Based on our most recent estimates from CDC surveillance, the B.1.1.7 variant is now the most common lineage circulating in the United States," Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC, said during the White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing, according to CNN.

The B.1.1.7 variant was first uncovered in the UK, with officials there announcing its discovery in December. Subsequent analyses have indicated that it may be more transmissible and more deadlyEarlier this week, CNN reported that B.1.1.7 variant, which has spread across the world, has also been reported in each of the 50 US states.

According to Reuters, even as the US ramps up its vaccination efforts — it is now administering an average 3 million doses a day — there has been an uptick in new COVID-19 cases with an average of about 63,000 new cases reported a day.

It adds that cases of the B.1.351 variant, originally identified in South Africa and against which some vaccines are thought to be less effective, have been found in 36 US jurisdictions.

The Scan

Highly Similar

Researchers have uncovered bat viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Gain of Oversight

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering greater oversight of gain-of-function research.

Lasker for mRNA Vaccine Work

The Scientist reports that researchers whose work enabled the development of mRNA-based vaccines are among this year's Lasker Award winners

PLOS Papers on Causal Variant Mapping, Ancient Salmonella, ALK Fusion Test for NSCLC

In PLOS this week: MsCAVIAR approach to map causal variants, analysis of ancient Salmonella, and more.