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Keeping it the Same

Part of the allure of mRNA vaccines is the ease with which they can be updated, but that capability has not yet been utilized to combat new variants of SARS-CoV-2, WBUR reports, noting that vaccine developers have been working on Delta-specific vaccines.

But, according to WBUR, a Delta-specific vaccine might not add that much more protection. The original vaccines, which are targeted at the viral spike protein, provide a high degree of protection against severe disease and hospitalization from the Delta variant. Dan Barouch, an immunologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who worked on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, tells it that Delta's spike protein isn't that different from that of the original strain. Instead, he tells it that Delta likely causes breakthrough infections through its high infectiousness and the sheer number of viral particles it produces.

At the same time, WBUR says that as there are currently vaccine doses going unused in the US and the introduction of a new, variant-specific vaccine might further undermine their adoption.

Instead, the Broad Institute's Bronwyn MacInnis tells it that the vaccines' reprogrammability might be best saved for any future variant with a more changed spike protein.

The Scan

Support for Moderna Booster

An FDA advisory committee supports authorizing a booster for Moderna's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, CNN reports.

Testing at UK Lab Suspended

SARS-CoV-2 testing at a UK lab has been suspended following a number of false negative results.

J&J CSO to Step Down

The Wall Street Journal reports that Paul Stoffels will be stepping down as chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson by the end of the year.

Science Papers Present Proteo-Genomic Map of Human Health, Brain Tumor Target, Tool to Infer CNVs

In Science this week: gene-protein-disease map, epigenomic and transcriptomic approach highlights potential therapeutic target for gliomas, and more