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Xavier Becerra Confirmed

Xavier Becerra has been confirmed as the new secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Washington Post reports.

President Joe Biden nominated Becerra, the former attorney general of California who also represented Los Angeles in the House of Representatives, to the post in December.

The Post notes that with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Becerra will have his hands full leading the department, which encompasses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health, among other agencies. According to CNBC, Becerra said at a Senate confirmation hearing last month that he recognized "the enormous challenges before us."

The confirmation vote was close at 50 to 49, largely along party lines with one Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, voting to confirm, the Post adds. Republicans opposing Becerra said he lacked experience and criticized his support of a "Medicare for All" program and abortion rights, according to NBC News.

The Scan

Not Immediately Told

The US National Institutes of Health tells lawmakers that one of its grantees did not immediately report that it had developed a more infectious coronavirus, Science says.

Seems Effective in Kids

The Associated Press reports that the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for children appears to be highly effective at preventing symptomatic disease.

Intelligence Warning on Bioeconomy Threats

US intelligence warns over China's focus on technologies and data related to the bioeconomy, the New York Times reports.

PLOS Papers on Campylobacteriosis Sources, Inherited Retinal Dystrophies, Liver Cancer Prognosis

In PLOS this week: approach to uncover source of Campylobacteriosis, genetic risk factors for inherited retinal dystrophies, and more.