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Study Links Variant to Increased Risk of Death

A new study has found that the B.1.1.7 variant of SARS-CoV-2 is more deadly than previously circulating variants, Reuters reports.

A team of researchers in the UK — where the variant was first identified — compared outcomes among patients infected with the B.1.1.7 variant to outcomes among patients infected with other viral variants. A previous analysis has suggested that the B.1.1.7 variant is also more transmissible, about 56 percent more, than previous viral variants.

As they report in the BMJ on Wednesday, the University of Exeter's Robert Challen and his colleagues examined a cohort of 54,906 matched pairs of participants to find between a 32 percent and 104 percent increased risk of death within the group infected with the B.1.1.7 variant. The absolute risk of death, meanwhile, increased from 2.5 deaths to 4.1 deaths per 1,000 cases.

"Coupled with its ability to spread rapidly, this makes B.1.1.7 a threat that should be taken seriously," Challen tells Reuters.

The Scan

Booster Push

New data shows a decline in SARS-CoV-2 vaccine efficacy over time, which the New York Times says Pfizer is using to argue its case for a booster, even as the lower efficacy remains high.

With Help from Mr. Fluffington, PurrhD

Cats could make good study animals for genetic research, the University of Missouri's Leslie Lyons tells the Atlantic.

Man Charged With Threatening to Harm Fauci, Collins

The Hill reports that Thomas Patrick Connally, Jr., was charged with making threats against federal officials.

Nature Papers Present Approach to Find Natural Products, Method to ID Cancer Driver Mutations, More

In Nature this week: combination of cryogenic electron microscopy with genome mining helps uncover natural products, driver mutations in cancer, and more.