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Boost to Surveillance

The Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network is boosting its genomic surveillance capacity to better spot emerging SARS-CoV-2 strains, the Canadian Press reports.

It adds that the network was established in April 2020 as part of Genome Canada and currently sequences about 5 percent of COVID-19-positive samples in Canada. The group now aims to increase that to 10 percent of samples, it says. By comparison, the US sequences less than 1 percent of samples, and the UK about 10 percent.

The Canadian Press adds that viral variants of concern have been identified in all provinces, and that 601 of the 638 of those cases were the variant first identified in the UK. 

"We actually were faster than the US in identifying this [UK] variant in December, as soon as we started our sampling strategy. We were immediately able, in almost a week, to report some of those variants present in Canada," Catalina Lopez-Correa, the executive director of the network, tells the Canadian Press. "Being at 5 percent is already a good number. We're trying to push that to be closer to what the UK is doing."

The Scan

Guidelines for Ancient DNA Work

More than two dozen researchers have developed new ethical guidelines for conducting ancient DNA research, which they present in Nature.

And Cleared

A UK regulator has cleared former UK Prime Minister David Cameron in concerns he should have registered as a consultant-lobbyist for his work with Illumina, according to the Financial Times.

Suit Over Allegations

The Boston Globe reports that David Sabatini, who was placed on leave from MIT after allegations of sexual harassment, is suing his accuser, the Whitehead Institute, and the institute's director.

Nature Papers on Esophageal Cancer, Origin of Modern Horses, Exome Sequencing of UK Biobank Participants

In Nature this week: genetic and environmental influences of esophageal cancer, domestic horse origin traced to Western Eurasian steppes, and more.