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Keep on Running

Francis Collins, the director of the US National Institutes of Health, tells CBS News' 60 Minutes that now is to "not the moment to relax" in the pandemic.

As 60 Minutes reports, there are feelings of hope that the COVID-19 pandemic might soon be over as more people are being vaccinated. But at the same time, it notes there are at least three viral variants of concern worrying scientists. The B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the UK, for instance, is estimated to be about 50 percent more transmissible and possibly more deadly. It, 60 Minutes notes, has spread across the US. 

There are also worries that vaccines may be less effective against some of these variants, though researchers suspect they likely still provide some protection against COVID-19. But this just underscore the need for people to continue to thwart the spread of the virus and the development of variants, 60 Minutes adds.

"If you're the guy running for the finish line, don't trip right there on the 10-yard line," Collins says. "Try to get all the way to the goal. We can see it. We're gonna get there."

The Scan

And Back

The New York Times reports that missing SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences are back in a different database.

Lacks Family Hires Attorney

A lawyer for the family of Henrietta Lacks plans to seek compensation from pharmaceutical companies that have used her cancer cells in product development, the Baltimore Sun reports.

For the Unknown

The Associated Press reports that family members are calling on the US military to use new DNA analysis techniques to identify unknown sailors and Marines who were on the USS Arizona.

PLOS Papers on Congenital Heart Disease, COVID-19 Infection Host MicroRNAs, Multiple Malformation Mutations

In PLOS this week: new genes linked to congenital heart disease, microRNAs with altered expression in COVID-19, and more.