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Take a Load Off?

An initial analysis suggests that the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine could reduce viral load and, in turn, perhaps viral transmission, the Guardian reports.

Researchers in Israel led by MyHeritage Lab's Yaniv Erlich compared PCR Ct values from December 2020 and January 2021 for individuals testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 who were over the age of 60 and those between the age of 40 and 60. Israel, the Guardian notes, rolled out its vaccination effort in late December 2020, first vaccinating older individuals, largely with the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccine. 

As Erlich and his colleagues note in a preprint posted to MedRxiv, they hypothesized that if the vaccine leads to a decline in viral load, they should see a difference in Ct values between the groups beginning in January and not before. In their sample of 16,297 tests, they estimated that vaccination reduces viral load by 1.6 times to 20 times among individuals testing positive for SARS-CoV-2.

The Guardian notes that if a person's viral load is lower, the suspicion is that they would transmit the virus at a lower rate. Erlich cautions at the Guardian, though, that the analysis was initial one and that it is not yet established whether this decline in viral load would limit transmission.

The Scan

Rise of BA.5

The New York Times reports that the Omicron subvariant BA.5 has become the dominant version of SARS-CoV-2 in the US.

UK Health Secretary Resigns

Sajid Javid, the UK health secretary, resigned along with Chancellor Rishi Sunak, saying they cannot work with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government, CNN reports.

Clones From Freeze-Dried Cells

A team in Japan has cloned mice from freeze-dried skin cells, according to the Guardian.

Genome Research Papers on Craniosynostosis, Macaque Retrotransposition, More

In Genome Research this week: structural variants in craniosynostosis, LINE-1 activity in rhesus macaque brain, and more.