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No New SARS-CoV-2 Variants Identified Following End of China's COVID Lockdown

An analysis of SARS-CoV-2 variants that appeared in Beijing after China lifted its zero-COVID lockdowns is presented in The Lancet this week, suggesting that no novel variants have emerged recently. Amid the soaring number of COVID-19 cases in China following the elimination of lockdowns in December, there were concerns that novel SARS-CoV-2 variants would emerge there. In the new paper, researchers from the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control collected and sequenced respiratory samples from COVID-19 patients in the Chinese capital, generating around 3,000 high-quality complete SARS-CoV-2 genomes. They found cocirculation of two variants — BF.7 and BA.5.2 — that have dominated the current outbreak in Beijing since November, with no evidence of any novel variants. "This study could be considered a snapshot of China, due to both the frequent population exchange and the circulating strains with high transmissibility," the study's authors write. "It is vital to conduct timely and continuous large-scale monitoring of mutations during epidemics by sequencing as many SARS-CoV-2 genomes as possible."

The Scan

ChatGPT Does As Well As Humans Answering Genetics Questions, Study Finds

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics had ChatGPT answer genetics-related questions, finding it was about 68 percent accurate, but sometimes gave different answers to the same question.

Sequencing Analysis Examines Gene Regulatory Networks of Honeybee Soldier, Forager Brains

Researchers in Nature Ecology & Evolution find gene regulatory network differences between soldiers and foragers, suggesting bees can take on either role.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish Cohort Uncovers New Genetic Loci Linked to Alzheimer's Disease

The study in Alzheimer's & Dementia highlighted known genes, but also novel ones with biological ties to Alzheimer's disease.

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.