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Focus on the Severe

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will no longer investigate mild cases of COVID-19 that crop up among vaccinated individuals, the New York Times reports.

The agency, it notes, had been monitoring all such breakthrough cases. There have been a reported 10,262 breakthrough cases, though that is widely considered to be an undercount, according to the Times. As they write in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report, agency researchers found that 27 percent of breakthrough cases were asymptomatic and 10 percent of patients were hospitalized, though some of those hospitalizations were unrelated to COVID-19

As the Times notes, the findings suggest that vaccines are working as hoped, and the CDC had shifted its focus to the most severe cases. "We have to prioritize what we're doing, and the priority is to understand the cases associated with severe disease," Vanderbilt University School of Medicine's Kathryn Edwards tells it.

The Times reports, though, that the move isn't without criticism as some argue the agency is letting potentially informative data slip away. "What if a variant arises that is less responsive or, Lord forbid, unresponsive to the vaccines?" Washington University in St. Louis' Michael Kinch, tells it. "The way you stop it is good old-fashioned epidemiology, which the CDC has historically done very well. But if you don't see it coming, you can't stop it."

The Scan

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.