Top 10: December 14


Brainard J, Jones NR, Lake IR, Hooper L, Hunter PR. Community use of face masks and similar barriers to prevent respiratory illness such as COVID-19: a rapid scoping review. Euro Surveill. 2020 Dec;25(49):2000725. PubMed: Full-text:

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Face Masks* (*But Were Afraid to Ask). Does wearing face masks reduce primary respiratory infection risk by only 6–15%? See also the comment by Cowling BJ, Leung GM. Face masks and COVID-19: don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Euro Surveill. 2020 Dec;25(49):2001998. PubMed: Full-text:


Pavelka M, Van-Zandvoort K, Abbott S, et al. The effectiveness of population-wide, rapid antigen test based screening in reducing SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence in Slovakia. medRxiv 2020, posted 4 December. Full-text:

On 31 October, Slovakia deployed around 20 thousand medical staff and 40 thousand non-medical personnel to administer up to 4 million SARS-CoV-2 tests in 2 days. Here the authors report the results of the mass testing where rapid antigen tests were used to screen the whole population and to isolate infectious cases together with their household members. Prevalence of detected infections decreased by 58% (95% CI: 57-58%) within one week in the 45 counties that took part in two rounds of mass testing. See also the comments at



Guthmiller JJ, Wilson PC. Remembering seasonal coronaviruses. Science. 2020 Dec 11;370(6522):1272-1273. PubMed: Full-text:

In November, two groups (Shrock 2020 and Ng 2020; we presented the papers on 30 September and 9 November) showed that individuals exposed and unexposed to SARS-CoV-2 have cross-reactive serum antibodies against the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 and seasonal HCoVs. Jenna Guthmiller and Patrick Wilson discuss the studies more in depth. They conclude by highlighting the need for further research into how SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses are shaped by previous exposures to seasonal HCoVs and how this immunity can be harnessed to provide protection.

The papers cited above: 1) Ng KW, Faulkner N, Cornish GH, et al. Preexisting and de novo humoral immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in humans. Science  06 Nov 2020. Full-text: – 2) Shrock E Fujimura E, Kula T, et al. Viral epitope profiling of COVID-19 patients reveals cross-reactivity and correlates of severity. Science  29 Sep 2020. Full-text:



Hennessy EJ, FitzGerald GA. Battle for supremacy: nucleic acid interactions between viruses and cells. J Clin Invest. 2020 Dec 8:144227. PubMed: Full-text:

The variability in the clinical response to infection with SARS-CoV-2 reflects differences in host genetics and/or immune response. In this review, Elizabeth Hennessy and Garret FitzGerald examine the influence of viruses on the host epigenome and consider how variation in the epigenome may contribute to heterogeneity in the response to SARS-CoV-2.



Noval Rivas M, Ebinger JE, Wu M, et al. BCG vaccination history associates with decreased SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence across a diverse cohort of healthcare workers. J Clin Invest. 2020 Nov 19:145157. PubMed: Full-text:

A history of BCG vaccination was associated with decreased seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG and reduced reported COVID-19-related clinical symptoms in a cohort of healthcare workers in Los Angeles. Of the 6201 HCWs, 29,6% reported a history of BCG vaccination whereas 68,9% did not receive BCG vaccination. Seroprevalence of anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG as well as incidence of self-reported clinical symptoms associated with COVID-19 were significantly decreased among HCWs with a history of BCG vaccination compared to those without BCG vaccination.

See also the comment by Netea MG, van der Meer JW, van Crevel R. BCG vaccination in healthcare providers and the protection against COVID-19. J Clin Invest. 2020 Dec 11:145545. PubMed: Full-text:



Lee SC, Son KJ, Han CH, et al. Impact of comorbid asthma on severity of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Sci Rep 10, 21805 (2020). Full-text:

Asthma may not be a risk factor for poor prognosis of COVID-19. In a nationwide retrospective cohort study, Seon Cheol Park, Sang Chul Lee and colleagues from South Korea selected 7272 adult COVID-19 patients, 686 of whom had a history of asthma. After adjusting for age, sex, and the Charlson comorbidity score, asthma was not a significant risk factor for respiratory failure or mortality among all COVID-19 patients (odds ratio [OR] = 0,99, p = 0,997 and OR = 1,06, p = 0,759). Only a history of acute exacerbation in the previous year before COVID-19 was a significant risk factors for death (OR = 2,63, P = 0,043).


Culha MG, Demir O, Sahin O, et al. Sexual attitudes of healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 outbreak. Int J Impot Res 2020. Full-text:

Sporadic episodes of sexual dysfunction? Don’t worry, it’s COVID. The reassuring news has just been published by Mehmet Gökhan Çulha and colleagues in a short summary of an online survey among 185 healthcare professionals. Sexual desire, weekly sexual intercourse/masturbation number, foreplay time, sexual intercourse time – everything decreased. When factors affecting sexual dysfunction were analyzed as univariate and multivariate, sexual dysfunction was shown to be significantly more common in males and alcohol users. Time to put the bottle aside and get vaccinated.


Colombier S, Mahendiran T, Niclauss L, Kirsch M. Cardiac arrest and COVID-19: inflammation, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, and the destabilization of non-significant coronary artery disease—a case report. European Heart Journal 2020, published 12 December. Full-text:

The authors describe the case of a 60-year-old COVID-19 patient whose inaugural presentation was a refractory cardiac arrest secondary to the destabilization of known, non-significant coronary artery disease. This case illustrates several potential mechanisms that are thought to drive the cardiac complications seen in COVID-19.


Diller GP, Gatzoulis MA, Broberg CS, et al. Coronavirus disease 2019 in adults with congenital heart disease: a position paper from the ESC working group of adult congenital heart disease, and the International Society for Adult Congenital Heart Disease. Eur Heart J 2020, published 12 December. Full-text:

In this position paper, the authors discuss the impact of COVID-19 on ACHD patients, focusing on pathophysiology, risk stratification for work, self-isolation, hospitalization, impact on pregnancy, psychosocial health, and longer-term implications for the provision of ACHD care.


Palumbo MV, Rambur B, McKenna LP. Living at Home with Dementia Now More Complicated with COVID-19. Health Social Work 2020, published 13 December. Full-text:

Living at home with dementia is complicated, even more so during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. In this article Mary Val Palumbo, Betty Rambur and Lori P McKenna describe that unpredictability is heightened; that grief associated with dementia progression because of relationship changes, loss of emotional support, decreased financial support, increased dependency, and loss of future plans has intensified; and that fear of contracting the virus has exacerbated stress for single, largely homebound family caregivers.



If you read Spanish, read Salas J, Zafra M. Cómo frenar al coronavirus en Navidad. El País 2020, published 13 December. Full-text:

Estas fiestas serán peligrosas y se espera que aumenten los contagios por COVID. Pero hay alternativas para minimizar los problemas que pueden surgir en cada situación. Piense bien su celebración y aplique las restricciones que le proponemos.


Estefanía J. La vacuna, bien público global. El País 2020, published 11 December. Full-text:

Sería mejor vacunar en paralelo en todos los países que hacerlo en función de su riqueza.



If you read German, read Simmank J, Schumann F, Fischer L. Die USA haben eine Impfung – was kann sie? Die Zeit 2020, published 12 December. Full-text:

Die erste Impfung gegen Covid-19 wird in den USA zugelassen. Wie funktioniert sie, was wissen wir bisher über Wirksamkeit und Nebenwirkungen – und wann folgt Europa?


Copy-editor: Rob Camp

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