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CDC Calls Delta "Variant of Concern"

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now considers the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 to be a "variant of concern," CNN reports.

The Delta variant, also known as B.1.617.2, was first identified in India and has since been found across the world. It now accounts for most cases of COVID-19 in the UK, having overtaken the Alpha variant that was first identified there and pushing back re-opening plans, NPR adds. Some analyses have suggested that the Delta variant may be as or more transmissible as the Alpha variant, with NPR noting that new estimates suggest it is 50 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant and may lead to a higher number of hospitalizations.

In the US, the Delta is estimated to make up about 10 percent of COVID-19 cases, CNN adds.

The CDC previously considered the Delta variant to be a variant of interest, CNN notes, adding that the World Health Organization deemed Delta a variant of concern, about a month ago.

The Scan

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.

Effectiveness May Decline, Data From Israel Suggests

The New York Times reports that new Israeli data suggests a decline in Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness against Delta variant infection, though protection against severe disease remains high.

To See Future Risk

Slate looks into the use of polygenic risk scores in embryo screening.

PLOS Papers on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus, Bone Marrow Smear Sequencing, More

In PLOS this week: genomic analysis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, archived bone marrow sequencing, and more.