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Variants and Vaccination

Public health officials are pushing for greater SARS-CoV-2 vaccination to combat the rise of additional viral variants, CNN says.

"Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories," William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University Medical Center tells it.

CNN notes that mutations arise in all viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, adding that SARS-CoV-2 is not actually very mutation-prone. Most mutations that do crop up have little effect, but some weaken the virus and others can give the virus an edge. That, it adds, can allow them to out-compete other versions of the virus and establish themselves as a viral variant. For instance, the Alpha variant, which was first uncovered in the UK, was found to be more transmissible than the original viral strain, and now is being replaced by the Delta variant, which is itself more transmissible than the Alpha variant.

But, CNN adds, if the virus can't spread, it can't mutate. However, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are about 1,000 US counties in which less than 30 percent of the population is vaccinated.

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.