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A Response Here

Current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines may be effective against the viral variant first identified in California, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The variant — which is actually two closely related ones, B.1.427 and B.1.429 — has been dubbed a viral variant of concern by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and previous initial studies have suggested that it may be transmitted more easily and may partially evade vaccine-induced immune responses.

In a new study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from Duke University as well as from vaccine makers Moderna and Novavax report that serum samples from people vaccinated with either the Moderna or Novavax vaccines to find that exposure to the B.1.429 variant elicited neutralizing activity to slightly lower degree than the original viral strain, but enough to provide protection.

"People in Los Angeles can feel very good about getting the current vaccines — that they're going to be just as protected by those vaccines as people living in areas where they don't have the California variant," senior author David Montefiori from Duke tells the LA Times.

The researchers also tested the B.1.351 variant first identified in South Africa to find that it, as has been suspected, elicits a lower neutralizing response, the LA Times adds.

The Scan

Highly Similar

Researchers have uncovered bat viruses that are highly similar to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Gain of Oversight

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Biden Administration is considering greater oversight of gain-of-function research.

Lasker for mRNA Vaccine Work

The Scientist reports that researchers whose work enabled the development of mRNA-based vaccines are among this year's Lasker Award winners

PLOS Papers on Causal Variant Mapping, Ancient Salmonella, ALK Fusion Test for NSCLC

In PLOS this week: MsCAVIAR approach to map causal variants, analysis of ancient Salmonella, and more.