Research Insights About Covid-19

We attempt to provide selected highlights in recent research findings

Last Update on 20 September 2020

A. Medicine and Health 

Research Insights About Covid-19

We attempt to provide selected highlights in recent research findings

Last Update on 1 December 2020

A. Medicine and Health 

August 2020

August 31, 2020 (PNAS)

A SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate would likely match all currently circulating variants

Bethany Dearlove, Eric Lewitus, Hongjun Bai et al.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus can mutate in a given individual, and these variants can be propagated across populations and time, raising questions about the possibility of a universally effective vaccine. To understand this mutation process, the authors analyze 18,514 SARS-CoV-2 sequences sampled since December 2019. They found that neutral evolution, rather than adaptive selection, can explain the rare mutations seen across SARS-CoV-2 genomes. Their results suggest that the limited diversity seen in SARS-CoV-2 should not preclude a single vaccine from providing global protection.


August 28, 2020 (NEJM)

Saliva or Nasopharyngeal Swab Specimens for Detection of SARS-CoV-2

Anne L. Wyllie, John Fournier, Arnau Casanovas-Massana et al.

In this letter, the investigators report that saliva specimens and nasopharyngeal swab specimens had similar sensitivity in the detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in both symptomatic and asymptomatic persons.



August 28, 2020 (The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology)

Outcomes following SARS-CoV-2 infection in liver transplant recipients: an international registry study

Gwilym J Webb, Thomas Marjot, Jonathan A Cook et al.

Despite concerns that patients with liver transplants might be at increased risk of adverse outcomes from COVID-19 because of coexisting comorbidities and use of immunosuppressants, the effect of SARS-CoV-2 infection on this patient group remains unclear. In this multicentre cohort study, the authors collected data to assess the clinical outcomes of COVID-19 in this cohort of patients.

August 27, 2020 (Virol J)

Characterization of accessory genes in coronavirus genomes

Michel, C.J., Mayer, C., Poch, O. et al.

Coronavirus genomes code for a ORF1a/ ORF1ab polyprotein and four structural proteins widely studied as major drug targets. The genomes also contain a variable number of open reading frames (ORFs) coding for accessory proteins that are not essential for virus replication but appear to have a role in pathogenesis. The authors applied a computational tool GOFIX to characterize potential ORFs in SARS-CoV-2 and related genomes including SARS-CoV and SARS-like viruses from bat, civet and pangolin hosts, focusing on the accessory proteins. 


August 27, 2020 (Health, Policy and Technology)

COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom

Darren Flynn, Eoin Moloney, Nawaraj Bhattarai et al.

The authors describe epidemiological data on cases of COVID-19 and the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 in the United Kingdom (UK), and the subsequent policy and technological response to the pandemic, including impact on healthcare, business and the economy.



August 26, 2020 (J of Int. Medical Research)

Understanding the epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis and management of SARS-CoV-2

Adewale Oluwaseun Fadaka, Nicole Remaliah Samantha Sibuyi et al.

In this review, the authors summarize the epidemiology, pathophysiology, and diagnosis of COVID-19. They also address the mechanisms of action of approved repurposed drugs for the therapeutic management of the disease.



August 26, 2020 (J of Int Medical Research)

Understanding the epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis and management of SARS-CoV-2

Adewale Oluwaseun Fadaka, Nicole Remaliah Samantha Sibuyi, Olusola Bolaji et al.

The authors summarize all that we know to date on the SARS-CoV2 virus, epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis and management. They present this knowledge in charts and graphics making it easy to understand.


August 25, 2020 (The Lancet Respiratory Medicine)

Lung transplantation for COVID-19-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome in a PCR-positive patient

Christian Lang, Peter Jaksch, Mir Alireza Hoda et al.

The authors present a case report of a 44-year-old, female patient who had COVID-19-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome, requiring lung transplant. The case presented here extends the reports from China by showing that lung transplantation can be done in patients with positive RT-PCR results.



August 25, 2020 (EClinicalMedicine, The Lancet)

Clinical features, diagnostics, and outcomes of patients presenting with acute respiratory illness: A retrospective cohort study of patients with and without COVID-19

Sachin J. Shah, Peter N. Barish,Priya A. Prasad

The authors compared the clinical presentation, diagnostics, treatment, and outcomes between patients with COVID-19 and other acute respiratory illnesses. Whilst they found differences in clinical features of COVID-19 compared to other acute respiratory illnesses, there was significant overlap in presentation and comorbidities. Patients with COVID-19 were more likely to be admitted to the hospital, have longer hospitalizations and develop ARDS, and were unlikely to have co-existent viral infections.



August 24, 2020 (EBioMedicine, The Lancet)

Clinical, Immunological and virological characterization of COVID-19 patients that test re-positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR

Jing Lu, Jinju Peng, Qianling Xiong et al.

The authors collected data on patients who tested positive again for SARS-CoV-2 RNA following negative test results and discharge. They determined neutralization antibody titres and also looked for potential infectivity of clinical samples. They found that re-positive SARS-CoV-2 cases do not appear to be caused by active reinfection and were identified in ~14% of discharged cases. A robust NAb response and potential virus genome degradation were detected in almost all re-positive cases, suggesting a substantially lower transmission risk, especially through respiratory routes.



August 21, 2020 (JAMA)

Effect of Remdesivir vs Standard Care on Clinical Status at 11 Days in Patients With Moderate COVID-19: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Christoph D. Spinner, Robert L. Gottlieb, Gerard J. Criner et al.

This open-label randomized trial compares the effect of remdesivir (5 or 10 days) vs standard care on clinical status 11 days after treatment initiation among patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection hospitalized with moderate pneumonia (room air oxygen saturation >94%).



August 20, 2020 (The Lancet Microbe)

Histopathological findings and viral tropism in UK patients with severe fatal COVID-19: a post-mortem study

Brian Hanley, Kikkeri N Naresh, Candice Roufosse et al.

In this case series of ten patients, the authors described the histopathological findings and viral tropism in patients who died of severe COVID-19.



August 20, 2020 (Process Biochemistry)

A systematic review on recent trends in transmission, diagnosis, prevention and imaging features of COVID-19

S. Manigandan, Ming-Tsang Wu, Vinoth Kumar Ponnusamy et al.

This study presents the perspective of different modes of transmission of coronavirus, especially during clinical practices and among the paediatrics. Further, the diagnostic methods and the advancement of the computerized tomography are discussed. This study also predicts the possible transmission of the virus through medical practices such as ophthalmology, dental, and endoscopy procedures. The authors also detail the current diagnostic methods for COVID-19.

August 19, 2020 (The Lancet Regional Health – Western Pacific)

Large-scale epidemiological monitoring of the COVID-19 epidemic in Tokyo

Daisuke Yoneoka, Yuta Tanoue, Takayuki Kawashima et. al.

A chatbot-based healthcare system named COOPERA (COvid-19: Operation for Personalized Empowerment to Render smart prevention And AN care seeking) was developed to survey the Japanese epidemiological situation in real-time. COOPERA asked questions regarding personal information, location, preventive actions, COVID-19 related symptoms and their residence. The authors found that this new system can monitor the epidemiological situation and can provide insights to assist political decision to tackle the epidemic. 

August 19, 2020 (J Anx Dis)

Fear and avoidance of healthcare workers: An important, under-recognized form of stigmatization during the COVID-19 pandemic

Steven Taylor, Caeleigh A. Landry, Geoffrey S. Racho et al.

During past disease outbreaks, healthcare workers (HCWs) have been stigmatized by members in their community, for fear that HCWs are sources of infection. Here, the authors investigate the prevalence and correlate of HCW stigmatization during the COVID-19 pandemic in a large sample of adults from the United States and Canada. They assessed the prevalence of stigma-related beliefs that HCWs are sources of infection with SARSCoV2, and identify the correlates of such attitudes, particularly the question of whether HCW-related stigmatizing attitudes are associated with the COVID Stress Syndrome.


August 18, 2020 (JAMA Int. Med.)

Evaluating the Association of Clinical Characteristics With Neutralizing Antibody Levels in Patients Who Have Recovered From Mild COVID-19 in Shanghai, China

Fan Wu, Mei Liu, Aojie Wang et al.

This cohort study examines the levels of neutralizing antibodies to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in patients who recovered from mild coronavirus disease 2019.



August 18, 2020 (NPJ Genomic Medicine)

Pharmacogenomics of COVID-19 therapies

Takahashi, T., Luzum, J.A., Nicol, M.R. et al.

In this review, the authors summarize the pharmacogenomic literature available for COVID-19 drug therapies including hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, azithromycin, remdesivir, favipiravir, ribavirin, lopinavir/ritonavir, darunavir/cobicistat, interferon beta-1b, tocilizumab, ruxolitinib, baricitinib, and corticosteroids.



August 18, 2020 (The Lancet)

Effects of a major deletion in the SARS-CoV2 genome on the severity of the infection and the inflammatory response: an observational cohort study

Barnaby E Young, Siew-Wai Fong, Yi-Hao Chan et al.

SARS-CoV-2 variants with a 382-nucleotide deletion (∆382) in the open reading frame 8 (ORF8) region of the genome have been detected in Singapore and other countries. The authors investigate the effect of this deletion on the clinical features of infection. They found that the ∆382 variant of SARS-CoV-2 seems to be associated with a milder infection. The observed clinical effects of deletions in ORF8 could have implications for the development of treatments and vaccines.


August 17, 2020 (EBioMedicine, The Lancet)

SARS-CoV2 vertical transmission with adverse effects on the newborn revealed through integrated immunohistochemical, electron microscopy and molecular analyses of Placenta

Fabio Facchetti, Mattia Bugatti, Emma Drera et al.

The occurrence of trans-placental transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection remains highly debated. Here, the authors provide evidence for maternal-fetal transmission of SARS-CoV-2, which they postulate is likely propagated by circulating virus-infected fetal mononuclear cells. The authors also describe the results of a comprehensive immunohistochemical and immunofluorescence analysis of the placental inflammatory infiltrate.



August 17, 2020 (EClinicalMedicine, The Lancet)

Risk factors for detection of SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare workers during April 2020 in a UK hospital testing programme

John S Leeds, Veena Raviprakash, Thomas Jacques et al.

The authors tested 991 healthcare workers in a single centre for SARS-Cov2 and examined risk factors associated with contracting the virus. They found that no specific variables were identified that altered the risk of SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection including age, sex, occupation and ethnicity.



August 17, 2020 (Ageing Research Reviews)

COVID-19: risk accumulation among biologically and socially vulnerable older populations

Amaia Calderón-Larrañaga, Serhiy Dekhtyar, Davide L.Vetrano et al.

In this paper, the authors propose a conceptual framework whereby different factors related to biological and social vulnerability may explain the specific COVID-19 burden among older people. The authors emphasize that interdisciplinary collaboration and biological, clinical and social data integration will be crucial to guide actions aimed at reducing older adults’ vulnerability to COVID-19.



August 15, 2020 (Academic Radiology)

Thorax Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings in Patients with Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Omer Faruk Ates, Onur Taydas, Hamad Dheir

The authors compared the findings found in thorax CT, which is increasingly used in the diagnosis of COVID-19, and the findings of MRI as an important diagnostic alternative.



August 8, 2020 (J of Oral Biology and Craniofacial Research)

Analysing COVID-19 pandemic through cases, deaths, and recoveries

Ilma Khan, Abid Haleem, Mohd Javaid

This paper aims to analyse the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on different countries through COVID-19 cases to learn the right steps to contain the infection.



August 7, 2020 (Clin. Gastroenterology and Hepatology)

Systematic review on IBD patients with COVID-19: it is time to take stock

Ferdinando D’Amico, Silvio Danese, Laurent Peyrin-Biroulet

Clinical characteristics’ data of patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) with COVID-19 are scarce. The authors performed a systematic review to investigate symptoms and diagnostic-therapeutic management of IBD patients with COVID-19. They found that diarrhoea occurs more frequently in IBD patients with COVID-19 than in non-IBD population. However, further studies are needed to define the optimal diagnostic-therapeutic approach in IBD patients with COVID-19.

August 7, 2020 (J of Affective Disorders)

Reactions to COVID-19: Differential predictors of distress, avoidance, and disregard for social distancing

Steven Taylor, Caeleigh A. Landry, Michelle M. Paluszek et al.

In this study, the authors investigate the differential predictors of over- and under-responses to COVID-19. They highlight the importance of understanding under-responses to COVID-19 and how these relate to distress, excessive avoidance, and nonadherence to social distancing. Implications for addressing the problems of over- and under-response are discussed.

August 5, 2020 (Cell)

Severe COVID-19 Is Marked by a Dysregulated Myeloid Cell Compartment

Jonas Schulte-Schrepping, Nico Reusch, Daniela Paclik

In a dual-center, two-cohort study, the authors combined single-cell RNA-sequencing and single-cell proteomics of whole-blood and peripheral-blood mononuclear cells to determine changes in immune cell composition and activation in mild versus severe COVID-19 (242 samples from 109 individuals) over time. This study provides detailed insights into the systemic immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection and reveals profound alterations in the myeloid cell compartment associated with severe COVID-19.



August 4, 2020 (Science)

Selective and cross-reactive SARS-CoV2 T cell epitopes in unexposed humans

Jose Materus, Alba Grifoni, Alison Tarke et al.

Using human blood samples derived before the SARS-CoV2 virus was discovered in 2019, the authors mapped 142 T cell epitopes across the SARS-CoV2 genome to facilitate precise interrogation of the SARS-CoV2 specific CD4 T cell repertoire. The authors demonstrate a range of pre-existing memory CD4 T cells that are cross-reactive with comparable affinity to SARS-CoV2 and some common cold coronaviruses.

August 4, 2020 (J of Pub. Health)

Post-COVID-19 precautions based on lessons learned from past pandemics: a review

Prakash Mallappa Munnoli, S. Nabapure, G. Yeshavanth

The authors perform a literature review on past pandemics and compared it to the current COVID-19 pandemic and share the lessons learned. A general awareness of COVID-19 infection is addressed, and it is compared with the Spanish flu pandemic. The authors conclude that based on the successes, failures and lessons learned in the past, governmental efforts must be undertaken to empower citizens by providing accurate information and implementing post-COVID-19 precautions that need to be taken now to stop the spread and recurrence of the virus locally, and to restore health and economic normalcy.



August 4, 2020 (J of Infection and Public Health)

COVID-19 and comorbidities: Deleterious impact on infected patients

Hasan Ejaz, Abdullah Alsrhani, Aizza Zafar et al

In this review, the authors focus on the impact of common morbidities in COVID-19 patients and recapitulated the management strategies with recent directions. They found limited resources describing the association of co-morbidities in COVID-19.


Aug 4, 2020 (JAMA Network Open)

Prevalence of Health Care Worker Burnour during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic in Japan

Takahiro Matsuo, Daiki Kobayashi, Fumika Taki et al.

This cross-sectional study evaluates the prevalence of and factors associated with burnout among frontline health care workers during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in Japan.



Aug 4, 2020 (JAMA)

Airborne Transmission of SARS-CoV2: Theoretical considetations and Available Evidence

Michael Klompas, Meghan A. Baker, Chanu Rhee et al.

This Viewpoint discusses physical and epidemiological evidence supporting droplet vs aerosol transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and concludes on balance that aerosol transmission seems unlikely to be the dominant mode of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) spread.