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An analysis of viral DNA isolated from ancient human remains reveals that smallpox was widespread in Northern Europe in the 7th century, nearly 1,000 years earlier than previously known. A team led by scientists from the University of Cambridge and the University of Copenhagen recovered viral sequences from 13 northern European individuals, including 11 from the Viking Age, and reconstructed near-complete smallpox virus genomes for four of them.

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Nature News writes that additional details about the UK plan for an agency to support high-risk, high-reward science are needed.

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized Johnson & Johnson's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

The Wall Street Journal writes new studies are giving glimpses into the origins of SARS-CoV-2.

In PLOS this week: analysis of Plasmodium population structure, qPCR assay to diagnose scabies, and more.