Top 10: December 15

Copy-editor: Rob Camp


Tracking the Coronavirus at U.S. Colleges and Universities. The New York Time 2020, published 11 December. Full-text:


Harmon A. Superspreading Boston biotech conference in February is linked to 1.9 percent of all U.S. cases. The New York Times 2020, published 11 December. Full-text:

A short summary of the study by Lemieux JE et al. we presented two days ago (Lemieux JE, Siddle KJ, Shaw BM, et al. Phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in Boston highlights the impact of superspreading events. Science 2020, published 10 December. Full-text: As many as 300.000 coronavirus cases across the United States can be traced to a two-day conference in Boston convened by the drug company Biogen.



Swann H, Sharma H, Preece B, et al. Minimal system for assembly of SARS-CoV-2 virus like particles. Sci Rep 10, 21877 (2020). Full-text:

Non-infectious virus-like particles (VLPs) displaying essential viral proteins can be used to study the structural properties of the SARS-CoV-2 virions and because of their maximum immunogenicity are also vaccine candidates. Here, Saveez Saffarian, Heather Swann and colleagues demonstrate that non-infectious SARS-CoV-2 virus-like particles (VLPs) can be assembled by co-expressing the viral proteins S, M and E in mammalian cells.



Hernández Cordero AI, Li X, Yang CX, et al. Gene expression network analysis provides potential targets against SARS-CoV-2. Sci Rep 10, 21863 (2020). Full-text:

Cell entry of SARS-CoV-2 is facilitated by host cell angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2). Here, the authors show that dozens of genes are co-expressed with ACE2 and TMPRSS2, many of which have plausible links to COVID-19 pathophysiology and might potentially be targetable with existing drugs.



Oliver S, Gargano J, Marin M, et al. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ Interim Recommendation for Use of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine — United States, December 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 13 December 2020. Full-text:

On December 12, 2020, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued an interim recommendation for use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in persons aged ≥ 16 years for the prevention of COVID-19. Mass vaccinations in the US started two days later.



Lean FZX, Lamers MM, Smith SP, et al. Development of immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridisation for the detection of SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded specimens. Sci Rep 10, 21894 (2020). Full-text:

Have you ever needed to detect SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 viral products in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) specimens? Fabian Lean and colleagues show you how. The authors conclude that the diverse techniques for virus detection and control material generation could be applied to investigations of coronavirus pathogenesis and therapeutic research in animal models.



Berber B, Aydin C, Kocabas F, et al. Gene editing and RNAi approaches for COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics. Gene Ther (2020). Full-text:

RNA interference (RNAi) mechanism has been used for the silencing of genes that are related to cancer, viral infections, and autoimmune diseases. In this review, Cihan Tastan, Burak Berber and colleagues discuss molecular biology approaches that could revolutionize the diagnostics of viral infections and therapies to fight COVID-19 in a highly specific, stable, and efficient way.



Buckland MS, Galloway JB, Fhogartaigh CN, et al. Treatment of COVID-19 with remdesivir in the absence of humoral immunity: a case report. Nat Commun 11, 6385 (2020).

The authors report the case of a patient with COVID-19 and the prototypic genetic antibody deficiency X-linked agammaglobulinemia (XLA). The patient developed persistent SARS-CoV-2 pneumonitis, without progressing to multi-organ involvement. Over two independent courses of treatment, the authors observed a temporally correlated clinical and virologic response, leading to clinical resolution and viral clearance.



Keddi S, Pakpoor J, Mousele C, et al. Epidemiological and cohort study finds no association between COVID-19 and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Brain 2020, published 14 December. Full-text:

Some reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) have emerged during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Here, Michael Lunn, Stephen Keddie and colleagues from University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust studied the epidemiology of GBS cases reported to the UK National Immunoglobulin Database from 2016 to 2019 and compared it to cases reported during the COVID-19 pandemic. The result: GBS incidence has fallen during the pandemic, which may be the influence of lockdown measures reducing transmission of GBS inducing pathogens such as Campylobacter jejuni and respiratory viruses.


Collateral Effects

Ma X, Guan C, Chen R, et al. Pathological and molecular examinations of postmortem testis biopsies reveal SARS-CoV-2 infection in the testis and spermatogenesis damage in COVID-19 patients. Cell Mol Immunol (2020). Full-text:

Yesterday, we reported about sexual desire, weekly sexual intercourse/masturbation number, foreplay time, and sexual intercourse which might be somewhat decreased in COVID times (see Now Shuiqiao Yuan, Xixiang Ma and colleagues from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, evaluated the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection on spermatogenesis by examining the pathophysiology and molecular features of testes obtained from five male COVID-19 patients at autopsy. Their findings might provide evidence that SARS-CoV-2 can infect the testis and germ cells, indicating the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on spermatogenesis and male fertility.



If you read Spanish, read Camarero A. Las medidas anticovid en los colegios reducen los casos de bronquiolitis o catarros y la incidencia de piojos en los niños. El País 2020, published 14 December. Full-text:

Mantener la distancia de seguridad y el uso de la mascarilla están produciendo un efecto beneficioso en las aulas. Los expertos destacan que se está registrando un descenso en el número de consultas pediátricas.



If you read French, read Hecketsweiler C. La deuxième vague de Covid-19 vue de l’hôpital Bichat : « Ils sont totalement à plat dans leur lit, c’est frappant » – Le Monde 2020, published 14 December. Full-text :

Dans le service de gériatrie, douze lits sont réservés aux patients touchés par le Covid-19, qui accable d’une intense fatigue les malades très âgés, parfois complètement déboussolés.


Raybaud A. « Ma vie amoureuse est en pause depuis un an » : sous l’effet du Covid, une jeunesse en mal de rencontres. Le Monde 2020, published 14 December. Full-text :

La restriction des contacts et la fermeture des lieux propices à de nouvelles relations plongent certains jeunes dans le désarroi, à un âge habituellement associé à une diversité d’expériences sexuelles et sentimentales.


Jérôme B. Covid-19 : Dans les Ehpad, le dilemme de la vaccination. Le Monde 2020, published 14 December. Full-text :

Les fédérations des directeurs d’établissement pour personnes âgées plaident pour un accord écrit des résidents.



If you read German, read Medizinisches Personal hat hohes Risiko für schwere Krankheitsverläufe. Der Spiegel 2020, published 14 December. Full-text:

Eine Studie hat untersucht, in welchen Berufen das Risiko hoch ist, schwer an Covid-19 zu erkranken. Demnach trifft es Ärzte, Pflegekräfte, Rettungssanitäter und Menschen in anderen sozialen Berufen.

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