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Glimpses of Viral Origins

New studies are hinting at how SARS-CoV-2 evolved, the Wall Street Journal reports.

A handful of recent studies have identified coronaviruses similar to SARS-CoV-2 in other animals like bats and pangolins across East and Southeast Asia, it notes, adding that another study, posted as a preprint to BioRxiv, indicates that a single amino acid change in the spike protein may have made the virus better suited to replicating in human cells.

Public health officials say, according to the Journal, that pinpointing the source of the virus is needed to help avoid future outbreaks, though may take time. Duke-NUS Medical School's Lin-Fa Wang, who has studied coronaviruses in bats and pangolins in Southeast Asia, tells the Journal that he is "convinced that the ancestral virus came from bats." He adds that researchers should conduct a thorough search for it near where horseshoe bats roost.

The Journal adds that the World Health Organization team that was in China to investigate the origins of the pandemic has also suggested searching not only in China but also in Southeast Asian countries it borders for the origins of SARS-CoV-2.

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.