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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

Could Cost Billions

NBC News reports that the new Alzheimer's disease drug from Biogen could cost Medicare in the US billions of dollars.

Not Quite Sent

The Biden Administration likely won't meet its goal of sending 80 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad by the end of the month, according to the Washington Post.

DTC Regulation Proposals

A new report calls on UK policymakers to review direct-to-consumer genetic testing regulations, the Independent reports.

PNAS Papers on Mosquito MicroRNAs, Acute Kidney Injury, Trichothiodystrophy

In PNAS this week: microRNAs involved in Aedes aegypti reproduction, proximal tubule cell response to kidney injury, and more.