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More Variants to Come

Additional, more contagious variants of SARS-CoV-2 are likely to emerge, the Financial Times reports.

Variants like those that have been identified in the UK and South Africa, respectively, appear to be more easily transmitted between people and the UK B117 variant further appears to have led to a rise on COVID-19 cases there, FT adds. It notes that other viral strains have likewise been spotted in Japan and Brazil, but though the Brazilian strain seems to be increasing in frequency, it is as yet unclear whether it is more contagious.

More, Salim Abdool Karim, the chair of South Africa's COVID-19 ministerial advisory committee tells it, are likely to follow as pressures on the virus grow. "We're going to see this occur more commonly now than in 2020, as we vaccinate and as more people are infected," he tells FT

It adds that a new modeling analysis in Science suggests the virus may eventually become endemic, though author Ottar Bjornstad from Penn State says "maximum effort should be on weathering this pandemic."

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.