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Variant-Vaccine Race in the US

The B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant has been reported in each of the 50 US states, CNN reports.

The variant was first identified in the UK, and subsequent analyses have indicated that it may be both more transmissible and deadly. According to CNN, more than 15,000 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant have been reported in the US, underscoring the race between viral variants and vaccination efforts.

It adds that Rochelle Walensky, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has attributed the overall rise in COVID-19 cases during the past few weeks to the spread of viral variants. At the same time, the US is racing to vaccinate people, with about 40 percent of adults having received at least one dose, CNN says.

But many states and local jurisdictions are easing their pandemic restrictions, which CNN says a number of experts say is premature. "We're not there yet and the variants make it particularly concerning," Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University's public health school, tells it. "We really do have to hunker down for a few more weeks. We are very close to the finish line but we can't stop yet." 


The Scan

Latent HIV Found in White Blood Cells of Individuals on Long-Term Treatments

Researchers in Nature Microbiology find HIV genetic material in monocyte white blood cells and in macrophages that differentiated from them in individuals on HIV-suppressive treatment.

Seagull Microbiome Altered by Microplastic Exposure

The overall diversity and the composition at gut microbiome sites appear to coincide with microplastic exposure and ingestion in two wild bird species, according to a new Nature Ecology and Evolution study.

Study Traces Bladder Cancer Risk Contributors in Organ Transplant Recipients

In eLife, genome and transcriptome sequencing reveal mutation signatures, recurrent somatic mutations, and risky virus sequences in bladder cancers occurring in transplant recipients.

Genes Linked to White-Tailed Jackrabbits' Winter Coat Color Change

Climate change, the researchers noted in Science, may lead to camouflage mismatch and increase predation of white-tailed jackrabbits.