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WHO Team to Search for SARS-CoV-2 Source

The World Health Organization is to send a team of investigators to Wuhan, China early next year to investigate the source of SARS-CoV-2, Reuters reports.

China, it notes, first informed the WHO of pneumonia-causing illness in the region about a year ago, though the origins of the virus are unclear. Similar viruses have been uncovered in bats, suggesting them as a possible source for SARS-CoV-2, though researchers suspect the virus may have spent time in another animal host before jumping to humans.

The WHO investigators represent the second phase of the investigation, as the first phase was conducted by researchers in China, Reuters says. It adds that the WHO plans to send between 12 and 15 investigators to spend six weeks in the region to collect samples from people and animals for additional testing.

"When we are doing animal surveillance, it's difficult, it's rather like looking for a needle in a haystack," Keith Hamilton from the World Organization for Animal Health, who is to be part of the team, says, according to Reuters.

The Scan

Should've Been Spotted Sooner

Scientists tell the Guardian that SARS-CoV-2 testing issues at a UK lab should have been noticed earlier.

For Martian Fuel

Researchers have outlined a plan to produce rocket fuel on Mars that uses a combination of sunlight, carbon dioxide, frozen water, cyanobacteria, and engineered E. coli, according to Gizmodo.

To Boost Rapid Testing

The Washington Post writes that new US programs aim to boost the availability of rapid at-home SARS-CoV-2 tests.

PNAS Papers on Strawberry Evolution, Cell Cycle Regulators, False-Positive Triplex Gene Editing

In PNAS this week: strawberry pan-genome, cell cycle-related roles for MDM2 and MDMX, and more.