Top 10: April 18

<<< April 2020

By Christian Hoffmann &
Bernd S. Kamps



CDC Covid Response Team. Characteristics of Health Care Personnel with COVID-19 – United States, February 12-April 9, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020 Apr 17;69(15):477-481. PubMed: Full-text:

During February 12-April 9, among 315,531 COVID-19 cases reported to CDC, 49,370 (16%) included data on whether the patient was a health care worker (HCW). Of 8,945 HCW, detailed data were available. Most HCW (90%) were not hospitalized; however, severe outcomes, including 27 deaths, occurred across all age groups. ICU admission and death were observed in 2.1–4.9% and 0.3-0.6%, respectively. These rates were markedly higher in HCW older then 65 years, with 6.9-16.0 % and 2.0-4.2%.


Anfinrud P, Stadnytskyi V, Bax CE, Bax A. Visualizing speech-generated oral fluid droplets with laser light scattering. N Engl J Med.

You remember Depeche Mode’s hit ‘Enjoy the Silence’? Then look at this video, a person saying “stay healthy”, a laser light-scattering experiment in which speech-generated droplets and their trajectories were visualized. The louder the speech, the higher the numbers of flashes. The number of flashes was highest when the “th” sound in the word “healthy” was pronounced. Depeche Mode were right: “Words are very unnecessary/They can only do harm”.


Meselson M. Droplets and Aerosols in the Transmission of SARS-CoV-2. N Engl J Med. 2020 Apr 15. PubMed: Full-text:

These authors emphasize that breathing and talking produce even smaller and much more numerous particles, known as aerosol particles, than those visualized in the (above mentioned) laser experiment. They recommend wearing a suitable mask whenever it is thought that infected persons may be nearby and of providing adequate ventilation of enclosed spaces where such persons are known to be or may recently have been.



Iwen PC, Stiles KL, Pentella MA. Safety Considerations in the Laboratory Testing of Specimens Suspected or Known to Contain the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Am J Clin Pathol. 2020 Apr 15;153(5):567-570. PubMed: Full-text:

Brief review on laboratory biosafety practices necessary to safely process clinical specimens.


Huang Y, Chen S, Yang Z, et al. SARS-CoV-2 Viral Load in Clinical Samples of Critically Ill Patients. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2020 Apr 15. PubMed: Full-text:

Small study on 16 critically ill patients, demonstrating higher viral load and prolonged shedding in lower respiratory tract specimens, as compared with upper respiratory tract specimens.


Kim H, Hong H, Yoon SH. Diagnostic Performance of CT and Reverse Transcriptase-Polymerase Chain Reaction for Coronavirus Disease 2019: A Meta-Analysis. Radiology. 2020 Apr 17:201343. PubMed: Full-text:

There is big debate whether chest CT contributes to COVID-19 diagnosis. Chinese researchers say yes, all others say no. This metaanalysis found a high sensitivity but low specificity. In areas with low prevalence, chest CT has a low positive predictive value (1.5-30.7%).



Goyal P, Choi JJ, Pinheiro LC, et al. Clinical Characteristics of Covid-19 in New York City. N Engl J Med. 2020 Apr 17. PubMed: Full-text:

Clinical characteristics of the first 393 consecutive patients who were admitted to two hospitals in New York City, among them 130 needing invasive mechanical ventilation. The latter were more likely to be male, to have obesity, and to have elevated liver-function values and inflammatory markers (ferritin, d-dimer, C-reactive protein, and procalcitonin). Diarrhea (23.7%), and nausea and vomiting (19.1%) were more frequent as in the reports from China (it remains unclear whether this difference reflects geographic variation or differential reporting).


Bangalore S, Sharma A, Slotwiner A, et al. ST-Segment Elevation in Patients with Covid-19 – A Case Series. N Engl J Med. 2020 Apr 17. PubMed: Full-text:

In this case series of 18 patients who had ST-segment elevation, there was variability in presentation, a high prevalence of nonobstructive disease, and a poor prognosis. 6/9 patients undergoing coronary angiography had obstructive disease. Of note, all 18 patients had elevated d-dimer levels.


Gong J, Ou J, Qiu X, et al. A Tool to Early Predict Severe Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) : A Multicenter Study using the Risk Nomogram in Wuhan and Guangdong, China. Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Apr 16. pii: 5820684. PubMed: Full-text:

A risk prediction nomogram for severe COVID-19 was evaluated, including older age, and higher serum lactate dehydrogenase, C-reactive protein, the coefficient of variation of red blood cell distribution width, blood urea nitrogen, direct bilirubin and lower albumin. Interesting, but must be validated in larger trials.


Helms J, Kremer S, Merdji H, et al. Neurologic Features in Severe SARS-CoV-2 Infection. N Engl J Med. 2020 Apr 15. PubMed: Full-text:

In this observational series of 58 patients, ARDS due to SARS-CoV-2 infection was associated with encephalopathy, prominent agitation and confusion, and corticospinal tract signs. It remained unclear, which of these features were due to critical illness–related encephalopathy, cytokines, or the effect or withdrawal of medication, and which features were specific to SARS-CoV-2 infection.