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 

June 27, 2020 (Current Problems in Diagnostic Radiology)

Current landscape of Imaging and the potential role for Artificial intelligence in the management of COVID-19

Faiq Shaikh, Michael Anderson, M. Rizwan Sohail et al.

Medical imaging plays a critical role in the early detection, clinical monitoring and outcomes assessment of COVID-19. Chest x-ray radiography (CXR) and computed tomography (CT) are the standard imaging modalities used for the structural assessment of the disease status. Artificial intelligence (AI) can enhance the predictive power and utilization of these imaging approaches and new approaches focusing on detection, stratification and prognostication are showing encouraging results. The authors review the current landscape of these imaging modalities and AI approaches as applied in COVID-19 management.



June 26, 2020 (European Radiology)

Evaluation of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) using quantitative lung CT and clinical data: prediction of short-term outcome.

Matos, J., Paparo, F., Mussetto, I. et al.

Volume of disease (VoD) on computed tomography (CT) scan and clinical information predict early outcome in COVID-19 patients. The authors measured VoD on CT scan of 106 COVID-19 positive patients using a simple CT post-processing tool. They found that CT and clinical data together enable accurate prediction of short-term clinical outcome.



June 26, 2020 (European Radiology)

Quantitative chest CT analysis in COVID-19 to predict the need for oxygenation support and intubation

Ezio Lanza, Riccardo Muglia, Isabella Bolengo et al.

The authors performed a single-centre retrospective study on COVID-19 patients hospitalised from January 25, 2020, to April 28, 2020, who received CT at admission prompted by respiratory symptoms such as dyspnea or desaturation. The authors tested quantitative CT analysis (QCT) as an outcome predictor for COVID-19. They found that may serve as a tool for the triaging process of COVID-19.



June 25, 2020 (Vaccine)

Contingent assessment of the COVID-19 vaccine

Leidy Y. García, Arcadio A. Cerda

The authors estimated an individual’s willingness to pay (WTP) for a hypothetical COVID-19 vaccine and, at the same time, find the main factors that determine this valuation.


June 25, 2020 (Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy)

The Coronavirus Pandemic in Malaysia: A Commentary

Sheena Kaur

The author expresses her views on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the Malaysian population from a mental health perspective. She also explains how the Malaysian health care system is organised and discusses the response of the people to the pandemic.



June 24, 2020 (JAMA Netw. Open)

Effect of Colchicine vs Standard Care on Cardiac and Inflammatory Biomarkers and Clinical Outcomes in Patients Hospitalized With Coronavirus Disease 2019: The GRECCO-19 Randomized Clinical Trial

Spyridon G. Deftereos, Georgios Giannopoulos, Dimitrios A. Vrachatis et al.

This randomized clinical trial evaluates the effect of treatment with colchicine on cardiac and inflammatory biomarkers and clinical outcomes in patients hospitalized with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).  Participants who received colchicine had statistically significantly improved time to clinical deterioration. However, this must be interpreted with caution.

June 21, 2020 (Int. J of Radiation Oncology)

Radiation Fractionation Schedules Published During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Systematic Review of the Quality of Evidence and Recommendations for Future Development

David J. Thomson, Sue S. Yom, Hina Saeed et al.

Numerous publications during the COVID-19 pandemic recommended the use of hypofractionated radiation therapy. This project assessed aggregate changes in the quality of the evidence supporting these schedules to establish a comprehensive evidence base for future reference and highlight aspects for future study. The authors discern that their work provides an evidence-based assessment of these potentially practice-changing recommendations and informs individualized decision-making and counselling of patients. 

June 19, 2020 (Science)

Structure-based design of antiviral drug candidates targeting the SARS-CoV-2 main protease

Wenhao Dai, Bing Zhang, Xia-Ming Jiang et al.

With no vaccine or proven effective drug against the SARS-CoV2 virus, scientists are racing to find clinical antiviral treatments. A promising drug target is the viral main protease Mpro, which plays a key role in viral replication and transcription. Dai et al.designed two inhibitors, 11a and 11b, based on analyzing the structure of the Mpro active site. Both strongly inhibited the activity of Mpro and showed good antiviral activity in cell culture. Compound 11a had better pharmacokinetic properties and low toxicity when tested in mice and dogs, suggesting that this compound is a promising drug candidate.


June 19, 2020 (Science)

COVID-19 and cancer

Norman E. Sharpless

The author discusses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer. From causing delayed diagnosis and suboptimal care for people with cancer, to unprecedented disruption throughout the cancer research community, there is valid concern that this will be a step backwards for the cancer community.



June 19, 2020 (JAMA)

Association of Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitor or Angiotensin Receptor Blocker Use With COVID-19 Diagnosis and Mortality

Emil L. Fosbøl, Jawad H. Butt, Lauge Østergaard, et al

This cohort study uses Danish registry data to estimate the association between a prescription for angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) in the 6 months prior to a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) diagnosis and mortality among all patients and those with hypertension.


June 18, 2020 (JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg.)

Prevalence of Taste and Smell Dysfunction in Coronavirus Disease 2019

Giuseppe Mercante, Fabio Ferreli, Armando De Virgilio et al.

This survey study of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 investigates the presence of sinonasal manifestations at the onset of the disease to achieve an earlier diagnosis.


June 18, 2020 (The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology)

Association between high serum total cortisol concentrations and mortality from COVID-19

Tricia Tan, Bernard Khoo, Edouard G Mills et al.

The increase in cortisol is an essential part of the body's stress response, triggering adaptive changes in metabolism, cardiovascular function, and immune regulation. The authors performed a cohort study describing the acute cortisol concentrations observed in patients with COVID-19. They found that cortisol seemed to be a better independent predictor than were other laboratory markers associated with COVID-19, such as CRP, D-dimer, and neutrophil to leukocyte ratio. 


June 18, 2020 (Clinical and Translational Radiation Oncology)

Conducting research in Radiation Oncology remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic: Coping with isolation

Jennifer Dhont, Marialaura Di Tella, Ludwig Dubois et al.

The authors  carried out a survey amongst researchers in the field of radiation oncology to gain insights on the impact of social isolation and working from home and to guide future work. They found that perceived productivity was lower, with associated feelings of guilt. Additionally, Anxiety and depressive symptoms were higher than normative values in Europe. They also found that mental health symptoms were lower in participants with institutional health support.



June 17, 2020 (The Lancet Infectious Disease)

Household secondary attack rate of COVID-19 and associated determinants in Guangzhou, China: a retrospective cohort study

Qin-Long Jing, Ming-Jin Liu, Zhou-Bin Zhang et al.

The authors estimated the secondary attack rate of SARS-CoV-2 among household and non-household close contacts in Guangzhou, China, using a statistical transmission model. They found that SARS-CoV2 is more transmissible in households than SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus. Older individuals (aged ≥60 years) are the most susceptible to household transmission of SARS-CoV-2. 


June 17, 2020 (Jama Int. Med.)

Prone Positioning in Awake, Nonintubated Patients With COVID-19 Hypoxemic Respiratory Failure

Alison E. Thompson, Benjamin L. Ranard, Ying Wei, Sanja Jelic.

This cohort study investigates whether the prone position is associated with improved oxygenation and decreased risk for intubation in spontaneously breathing patients with severe COVID-19 hypoxemic respiratory failure.    


June 16, 2020 (The Lancet Rheumatology)

GM-CSF blockade with mavrilimumab in severe COVID-19 pneumonia and systemic hyperinflammation: a single-centre, prospective cohort study

Giacomo De Luca, Giulio Cavalli, Corrado Campochiaro et al.

This single-centre prospective cohort study included patients aged 18 years or older with severe COVID-19 pneumonia, hypoxia, and systemic hyperinflammation. Patients received a single intravenous dose (6 mg/kg) of mavrilimumab added to standard care given by the hospital at the time. The control group consisted of contemporaneous patients with similar baseline characteristics who received standard care at the same hospital. Mavrilimumab treatment was associated with improved clinical outcomes compared with standard care in non-mechanically ventilated patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia and systemic hyperinflammation. 



June 16, 2020 (Immunity)

Immunology of COVID-19: Current State of the Science

Nicolas Vabret, Graham J. Britton, Conor Gruber et al.

In this review, the authors summarize the current state of knowledge of innate and adaptive immune responses elicited by SARS-CoV-2 infection and the immunological pathways that likely contribute to disease severity and death. They also discuss the rationale and clinical outcome of current therapeutic strategies as well as prospective clinical trials to prevent or treat SARS-CoV-2 infection.



June 15, 2020 (Science)

Potent neutralizing antibodies from COVID-19 patients define multiple targets of vulnerability

Philip J. M. Brouwer, Tom G. Caniels, Karlijn van der Straten et al.

The authors describe their work in isolating monoclonal antibodies from three convalescent COVID-19 patients using a SARS-CoV-2 stabilized prefusion spike protein. They found that a subset of the antibodies were able to potently inhibit authentic SARS-CoV-2 infection as low as 0.007 μg/mL. In addition to providing guidance for vaccine design, the antibodies described here are promising candidates for COVID-19 treatment and prevention.



June 15, 2020 (The Lancet)

Global, regional, and national estimates of the population at increased risk of severe COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions in 2020: a modelling study

Andrew Clark, Mark Jit, Charlotte Warren-Gash et al.

The authors estimated the number of individuals at increased risk of severe COVID-19 and to see how this varies between countries to inform the design of possible strategies to shield or vaccinate those at highest risk.  They found that about one in five individuals worldwide could be at increased risk of severe COVID-19, should they become infected, due to underlying health conditions, but this risk varies considerably by age. 



June 15, 2020 (Chest)

Tocilizumab treatment for Cytokine Release Syndrome in hospitalized COVID-19 patients: survival and clinical outcomes

Christina C.Price, Frederick L.Altice, YuShyr

In this observational study, the authors followed through COVID-19 patients who were treated with tocilizumab using an algorithm that targeted Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS). The authors found that in tocilizumab-treated patients, oxygenation and inflammatory biomarkers improved with higher than expected survival.

June 15, 2020 (JAMA)

Monoclonal Antibodies for Prevention and Treatment of COVID-19

Mary Marovich, John R. Mascola, Myron S. Cohen

This Viewpoint discusses the potential role of neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) as a treatment for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and as a means of prevention in high-risk populations, and it also raises possible limitations of the approach that need to be disproven or addressed for the strategy to be effective.



June 12, 2020 (JAMA Patient Page)

Convalescent Plasma and COVID-19

Anurag N. Malani, John P. Sherbeck, Preeti N. Malani

This JAMA Patient Page describes the possible benefits of convalescent plasma transfusion in the treatment of COVID-19 as well as plasma donation eligibility criteria.


June 12, 2020 (JAMA Surgery)

Factors Associated With Surgical Mortality and Complications Among Patients With and Without Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Italy

Francesco Doglietto, Marika Vezzoli, Federico Gheza et al.

This cohort study compares early surgical outcomes of patients in Italy with and without COVID-19 in different subspecialties. In this study of 41 surgical patients with COVID-19 and 82 tightly matched control patients without COVID-19, significant differences were documented regarding rates of early mortality and complications, pneumonia and thrombotic complications were significantly associated with COVID-19. Based on these results, the authors suggest that surgery should be postponed in patients with COVID-19, wherever possible.


June 12, 2020 (Science)

A noncompeting pair of human neutralizing antibodies block COVID-19 virus binding to its receptor ACE2

Yan Wu, Feiran Wang, Chenguang Shen et al.

One of the responses of the immune system to invading viruses is the production of antibodies. Some of these are neutralizing, meaning that they prevent the virus from being infectious, and can thus be used to treat viral diseases. Wu et al. isolated four neutralizing antibodies from a convalescent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patient and describe them in detail in this article.

June 12, 2020 (Science)

The impact of COVID-19 and strategies for mitigation and suppression in low- and middle-income countries

Patrick G. T. Walker, Charles Whittaker, Oliver J Watson et al.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone. The authors combine data on demography, contact patterns, disease severity, and health care capacity and quality to understand its impact and inform strategies for its control.

June 11, 2020 (JAMA Network Open)

Temperature, Humidity, and Latitude Analysis to Estimate Potential Spread and Seasonality of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Mohammad M. Sajadi, Parham Habibzadeh, Augustin Vintzileos et al.

This cohort study examines the association between climate and the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection.

June 11, 2020 (The Lancet)

Seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies in Geneva, Switzerland (SEROCoV-POP): a population-based study

Silvia Stringhini, Ania Wisniak, Giovanni Piumatti et al.

The authors perform a population based study to measure the prevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2-IgG antibodies using a commercially available ELISA. They performed weekly measurements and report the results of 5 weeks of measurement between April 6, 2020 - May 9, 2020. Assuming that the presence of IgG antibodies is associated with immunity, the results suggest tha  most of the population of Geneva remained uninfected during this wave of the pandemic. The authors estimate that for every reported confirmed case, there were 11·6 infections in the community. They hope to continue this study to complete 12 weeks.


June 11, 2020 (JAMA Network Open)

Assessment of Hypokalemia and Clinical Characteristics in Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Wenzhou, China

Dong Chen, Xiaokun Li, Qifa Song, et al.

This cohort study investigates the prevalence, causes, and clinical implications of hypokalemia, including its possible association with treatment outcomes, among patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Wenzhou, China.


June 10, 2020 (Vaccine)

Vaccination against coronaviruses in domestic animals

Ian R. Tizard

In search for a vaccine against SARS-CoV2 in humans, the authors discuss the development and use of coronavirus vaccines in domestic animal species. Although these animal vaccines will in no way protect humans against COVID-19 but knowledge of the difficulties encountered in vaccinating animals may help avoid or minimize similar problems arising in humans.

June 10, 2020 (AJR)

Diagnostic Ultrasound Services During the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic

Apoorva Gogna, Praveen Yogendra, Sally Hsueh Er Lee et al.

The authors share their experiences and protocols of performing diagnostic ultrasounds during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent risk of transmission of COVID-19 from patients to healthcare workers.

June 9, 2020 (JAMA)

Respiratory Parameters in Patients With COVID-19 After Using Noninvasive Ventilation in the Prone Position Outside the Intensive Care Unit

Chiara Sartini, Moreno Tresoldi, Paolo Scarpellini et al.

This study measured respiratory parameters of 15 non-ICU patients before, during, and after receiving noninvasive ventilation in the prone position.

June 6, 2020 (Mayo Clinic Proceedings)

Clinical Trial Endpoints in Severe COVID-19

Desai A, Kulkarni A, Rajkumar SV, Gyawali

This commentary highlights the endpoints focused by ongoing clinical trials on COVID-19 and the need for focus on mortality as an endpoint in trials for Severe COVID-19.


June 6, 2020 (Mayo Clinic Proceedings)

Innovation Lessons From the COVID-19 Pandemic

Gianrico Farrugia, Roshelle W. Plutowski

The authors highlight how health care organizations, industry partners, and government agencies worldwide have quickly come together to address the challenges of the COVID19 pandemic such as scaling high-quality laboratory tests, conducting treatment research, and enabling virtual health care in a time of social distancing. These accomplishments demonstrate the opportunity for future cross-sector partnerships in science and technology to fight the disease, while simultaneously creating the new digital health care solutions that our world greatly needs.


June 6, 2020 (European J of Medicinal Chemistry)

A Promising Antiviral Candidate Drug for the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Mini-Review of Remdesivir

Chengyuan Liang, Lei Tian, Yuzhi Liu et al.

This article provides a comprehensive overview of remdesivir (GS-5734), a viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP) inhibitor. The remdesivir synthetic routes were comprehensively collected and are presented as a compilation of roadmaps. The authors also summarise clinical trial information of remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19.


June 5, 2020 (Infection, Disease & Health)

Concerns for low-resource countries, with under-prepared intensive care units, facing the COVID-19 pandemic

Muhammad Elhadi, Ahmed Msherghi, Mohammed Alkeelani et al.

The authors report the healthcare system preparedness for COVID-19 in low resource settings and provides insight to the shortage of personal protective equipment in Africa. They also highlight the health care situation during the civil war and COVID 19 outbreak in Libya, as well as the infrastructure status of intensive care units in Libya.


June 4, 2020 (JAMA)

Correlation Between N95 Extended Use and Reuse and Fit Failure in an Emergency Department

Nida F. Degesys, Ralph C. Wang, Elizabeth Kwan et al.

This cross-sectional study examines prevalence of fit test failure of 2 types of N95 mask (dome-shaped and duckbill) during extended use or reuse among health care workers over 2 days in April 2020 in the UCSF emergency department. They found that duckbill N95s had a high failure rate. Failure of dome-shaped masks was associated with increased use.



June 4, 2020 (JAMA)

Challenge Trials—Could Deliberate Coronavirus Exposure Hasten Vaccine Development?

Rita Rubin

This Medical News feature discusses the debate over human challenge trials to test the safety and efficacy of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine candidates.


June 3, 2020 (JAMA)

Effect of Convalescent Plasma Therapy on Time to Clinical Improvement in Patients With Severe and Life-threatening COVID-19: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Ling Li, Wei Zhang, Yu Hu et al.


The authors performed a randomized clinical trial to ascertain if there was any benefit of using convalescent plasma therapy in treating severe COVID-19. They found that among 103 patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19, convalescent plasma therapy added to standard treatment did not significantly improve the time to clinical improvement within 28 days. However, interpretation is limited by early termination of the trial, which may have been underpowered to detect a clinically important difference.


June 3, 2020 (NEJM)

A Randomized Trial of Hydroxychloroquine as Postexposure Prophylaxis for Covid-19

David R. Boulware, Matthew F. Pullen, Ananta S. Bangdiwala et al.

In this double-blind, randomised trial, 821 asymptomatic persons with a high-risk or moderate-risk exposure to SARS-CoV-2 were assigned to receive hydroxychloroquine or placebo within 4 days after the exposure. No benefit in preventing illness compatible with COVID-19 was found.


June 3, 2020 (NEJM)

Swabs Collected by Patients or Health Care Workers for SARS-CoV-2 Testing

Yuan-Po Tu, Rachel Jennings, Gerard A. Cangelosi, et al.

Tongue, nasal and mid-turbinate swabs to detect SARS-CoV-2 were collected by 530 outpatients before a health care worker collected nasopharyngeal swabs from these patienta. Both the mid-turbinate and nasal samples collected by the patients themselves may be clinically acceptable, with estimated sensitivities above 90%.


June 3, 2020 (The Lancet)

The impact of ethnicity on clinical outcomes in COVID-19: A systematic review

Daniel Pan, Shirley Sze, Jatinder S. Minhas, et al.
The authors performed a systematic review to assess whether ethnicity has been reported in patients with COVID-19 and its relation to clinical outcomes. Data on ethnicity in patients with COVID-19 in the published medical literature remains limited. However, emerging data from the grey literature and preprint articles suggest Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals are at an increased risk of acquiring SARS-CoV-2 infection compared to White individuals and also worse clinical outcomes from COVID-19. 


June 3, 2020 (JAMA)

Effect of Convalescent Plasma Therapy on Time to Clinical Improvement in Patients With Severe and Life-threatening COVID-19: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Ling Li, Wei Zhang, Yu Hu, et al.

This randomized trial compares the effects of convalescent plasma therapy with standard care vs standard care alone on time to clinical improvement among patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19 disease in China. The authors found that among patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19, convalescent plasma therapy added to standard treatment, compared with standard treatment alone, did not result in a statistically significant improvement in time to clinical improvement within 28 days. 


June 2, 2020 (The Lancet Public Health)

Effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 cases, deaths, and demand for hospital services in the UK: a modelling study

Nicholas G Davies, Adam J Kucharski, Rosalind M Eggo, et al

Non-pharmaceutical interventions have been implemented to reduce transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the UK. This study assesses the potential impact of different control measures for mitigating the burden of COVID-19 in the UK.

June 2, 2020 (Int J of Infectious Diseases)

COVID-19 Outbreak in Malaysia: Actions Taken by the Malaysian Government

Ain Umaira Md Shah, Syafiqah Nur Azrie Safri, Rathedevi Thevadas et al.

This article shares the Malaysian experience of managing the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors share the actions taken by the Malaysian government such as the movement control order, amongst other steps to mitigate the spread of the disease.

June 1, 2020 (The Lancet)

Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Derek K Chu, Elie A Akl, Stephanie Duda, et al.
The authors performed systematic review and meta-analysis to investigate the optimum distance for avoiding person-to-person virus transmission and to assess the use of face masks and eye protection to prevent transmission of viruses. They reviewed 172 observational studies across 16 countries and six continents and their findings  support physical distancing of 1 m or more and provide quantitative estimates for models and contact tracing to inform policy. 

June 2020 (American Journal of Infection Control)

A qualitative study on the psychological experience of caregivers of COVID-19 patients

Niuniu Sun, Luoqun Wei, Suling Shi et al.

In this qualitative study, the authors explore the psychology of nurses caring for COVID-19 patients. They enrolled 20 nurses who provided care for COVID-19 patients using a phenomenological approach. They found that nurses showed interweaving positive and negative emotions during outbreak of COVID-19, with negative emotions being dominant in the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak. They emphasised that coping styles and psychological growth are important for maintaining mental health.

June 2020 (Journal of Nursing Research)

Nursing Perspectives on the Impacts of COVID-19

CHEN, Shu-Ching, LAI, Yeur-Hur, TSAY, Shiow-Luan

Nurses are the frontline healthcare professionals who work across acute care hospitals, long-term care agencies, nursing homes, schools, community, and government healthcare agencies. The multiple roles and functions played by nurses are particularly important during this COVID-19 pandemic and the authors highlight the nurses contribution across 5 main domains. They also discuss the key challenges faced by nursing professionals during this pandemic. 

Jun 2020