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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

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.