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Who's First?

With two candidate SARS-CoV-2 vaccines exhibiting high effectiveness in initial analyses, there has been a shift to wondering how vaccines, once given the regulatory go-ahead, should be distributed, the Associated Press writes.

The Surgo Foundation's Sema Sgaier tells it that, globally, the consensus appears to support healthcare workers receiving the vaccine first. She adds that a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel also suggests people over the age of 65, those with certain medical conditions, and others with essential jobs be given priority.

That's similar to what Helene Gayle from the Chicago Community Trust tells NPR that the National Academies committee she chaired has also recommended — that the vaccine be distributed according to people's risk. She adds that Black and Latino individuals are at increased risk for getting COVID-19 and that the committee's recommendations capture that by focusing on the results of racism — the increased risk of disease due to crowded housing or job type — rather than on race itself. "[W]e really want to make sure that the communities that have been most disproportionately impacted by this don't get left out of what could make a big difference in their life by having access to the vaccine and being willing to take it," Gayle adds.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.