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Viral Variant Footrace

The Los Angeles Times writes that SARS-CoV-2 variants — B.1.1.7, first identified in the UK, and B.1.427/B.1.429, first identified in California — are vying for dominance in the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially named B.1.427/B.1.429 variants of concern, CNN adds.

The US, the LA Times notes, has ramped up its genomic surveillance of viral variants and new data from the CDC indicates that by mid-February the B.1.1.7 variant accounted for about 9 percent of US cases and B.1.427/B.1.429 about 13 percent. That prevalence, though, varies by state. In California, the B.1.1.7 variant accounted for about 1 percent of cases and B.1.427/B.1.429 about 25 percent, while in New Jersey, the B.1.1.7 variant accounted for about 9 percent of cases and B.1.427/B.1.429 about 3 percent.

The B.1.1.7 variant, though, is more transmissible, leading Scripps Research Translational Institute's Eric Topol to predict at the LA Times that the B.1.427/B.1.429 "will be quickly crowded out by B.1.1.7," as "spreading rules the roost."

The Scan

Alzheimer's Risk Gene Among Women

CNN reports that researchers have found that variants in MGMT contribute to Alzheimer's disease risk among women but not men.

Still Hanging Around

The Guardian writes that persistent pockets of SARS-CoV-2 in the body could contribute to long COVID.

Through a Little Spit

Enteric viruses like norovirus may also be transmitted through saliva, not just the fecal-oral route, according to New Scientist.

Nature Papers Present Method to Detect Full Transcriptome, Viruses Infecting Asgard Archaea, More

In Nature this week: VASA-seq approach to detect full transcriptome, analysis of viruses infecting Asgard archaea, and more.