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Old Tissue, New Insights into 1918 Pandemic

Researchers have sequenced the partial genomes of two influenza samples and the full genome of another from the 1918 pandemic, Science reports.

It adds that two samples came from lung tissues from German soldiers who died in Berlin in June 1918 that were then preserved in formalin and the third from a woman in Munich who died at an unknown time in 1918. The researchers, led by the Robert Koch Institute's Sébastien Calvignac-Spencer, report in BioRxiv that they compared these sequences from the first and milder wave of the influenza pandemic to ones previously analyzed from later in the influenza pandemic. They uncovered two sites in the nucleoprotein gene that differed between the waves that may have made the influenza virus more resistant to the host viral response.

"It could be a sign that the virus was evolving to better avoid the human immune response in the first months of the pandemic," Calvignac-Spencer tells Science.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.