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The White House announced Friday that it will allocate $1.7 billion to fight coronavirus variants as the nation races to vaccinate people before the pathogen can mutate in new and concerning ways.

The funding, which will come from the most recent federal stimulus package, will target the detection, surveillance and mitigation of the variants. The original strain of the coronavirus now makes up only about half of infections in the United States.

Here are significant developments:

  • The number of new global coronavirus cases has almost doubled over the past two months, an alarming increase that the World Health Organization said Friday was nearing the pandemic’s peak infection rate.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that she received AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine Friday, despite concerns about a possible connection between that vaccine and rare blood clots.
  • Vaccinated people may need booster shots and annual inoculations to maintain protection against covid-19 and emerging coronavirus variants, according to a White House scientific adviser and the chief executive of Pfizer.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that 5,800 cases of post-vaccination “breakthrough infections” have been reported nationwide. That’s fewer than 1 in every 13,000 vaccinations.
  • A spring wave of coronavirus cases has crashed across 38 states as hospitalizations increase, turning the pandemic in the United States into a patchwork of regional hot spots.