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Transmission 'Plot Twist'

A new analysis indicates the SARS-CoV-2 strain identified in the UK may be more easily transmitted, the New York Times reports.

Earlier this month, officials and scientists in the UK noticed a new viral strain that appeared to be spreading in southern England. The rapid spread of the strain, dubbed B.1.1.7, raised concerns it might be more infectious than other strains.

A modeling analysis from researchers from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has now suggested the B.1.1.7 strain is 56 percent more transmissible, as they report in a preprint. They further projected how the strain may spread and the resulting number of hospitalizations and deaths that may ensue in the next six months under differing viral control measures and vaccination levels. In their preprint, the researchers argue that additional control measures such as more stringent lockdowns may be needed to curb its spread.

Northeastern University's Alessandro Vespignani tells the Times that the new strain is a "plot twist."

"Evidence is accumulating that the variant is more transmissible, and this implies that it will likely require an even greater effort to keep spreading under control," he adds.

The Scan

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.