Top 10: December 27

Copy-editor: Rob Camp


Martin CA, Jenkins DR, Patel P, et al. No cases of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection among healthcare staff in a city under lockdown restrictions: lessons to inform ‘Operation Moonshot’. J Pub Health 2020, published 26 December. Full-text:

Imagine inviting more than 13.000 healthcare workers (HCWs) to get SARS-CoV-2 testied. Now about 8% (n = 1150) of the workforce volunteer and you find no cases of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. You would probably conclude, like Manish Pareek, Christopher Martin and colleagues, that voluntary testing of asymptomatic staff may not be cost-effective.



Burki T. Equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Lancet Infect Dis 2021, published 1 January. Full-text:

If everything goes according to plan, November 2020 will be remembered as the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries will have to ensure that they have the infrastructure for mass immunization campaigns. Those without experience in distributing influenza vaccines must learn how to establish platforms for adult vaccination. Vaccine hesitancy will have to be overcome.


Lucia VC, Kelekar A, Afonso NM. COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among medical students, Journal of Public Health. J Pub Health 2020, published 26 December. Full-text:

Medical students are among the group of frontline healthcare providers likely to be exposed to COVID-19 patients. It is important to achieve high COVID-19 vaccination coverage rates in this group as soon as a vaccine is available. In this survey completed by 168 of 494 medical students (response rate = 34%), the vast majority had positive attitudes regarding immunizations in general and the importance of vaccines for themselves and patients. 53% indicated they would participate in a COVID-19 vaccine trial; only 23% were unwilling to take a COVID-19 vaccine immediately upon FDA approval.



Rathe JA, Hemann EA, Eggenberger J, et al. SARS-CoV-2 Serologic Assays in Control and Unknown Populations Demonstrate the Necessity of Virus Neutralization Testing. J Infect Dis 2020, published 25 December. Full-text:

How does serologic antibody testing outcome link with virus neutralization of SARS-CoV-2? To answer this question, Jennifer Rathe et al. compared serum Ig levels across platforms of viral antigens and antibodies with 15 positive and 30 negative SARS-CoV-2 controls followed by viral neutralization assessment. After applying these platforms to a clinically relevant cohort of 114 individuals with unknown histories of SARS-CoV-2 infection, they confirmed that no single serologic assay provides perfect prediction for viral neutralizing ability. Spike IgG3 provided the highest accuracy for predicting serologically positive individuals with virus neutralization activity.



Hampshire A. Trender W, Chamberlain SR, et al. Cognitive deficits in people who have recovered from COVID-19 relative to controls: An N=84,285 online study. medRxiv 2020, posted 21 October. Full-text:

SARS-CoV-2 infection may exhibit cognitive deficits that persist into the recovery phase. This is what Adam Hampshire and colleagues from the Imperial College in London suggest after analyzing cognitive test data from 84.285 Great British Intelligence Test participants who completed a questionnaire regarding suspected and biologically confirmed COVID-19 infection. Deficits were most pronounced in individuals who had been hospitalized, but were also detectable in individuals with mild but biologically confirmed cases who reported no breathing difficulty. The scale of the observed deficits was substantial; for the hospitalized patients who needed ventilator support they were equivalent to the average 10-year decline in global performance between the ages of 20 to 70 – comparable to a 8.5-point difference in IQ. Let’s hope that the results of this pre-print paper posted in October will be proved wrong and not be accepted for publication.


Gerkin RC, Ohla K, Veldhuizen MG, et al. Recent smell loss is the best predictor of COVID-19 among individuals with recent respiratory symptoms. Chemical Senses 2020, published 25 December. Full-text:

Might quantified smell loss be the best predictor of COVID-19 amongst those with symptoms of respiratory illness? That’s the suggestion by Valentina Parma, Richard Gerkin and colleagues after quantifying changes in chemosensory abilities in individuals with a positive (C19+; n = 4148) or negative (C19-; n = 546) COVID-19 laboratory test outcome.



Guillet H, Gallet R, Pham V, et al. Clinical spectrum of ischaemic arterial diseases associated with COVID-19: a series of four illustrative cases. Eur Heart J 2020, published 25 December. Full-text:

Henri Guillet et al. from Hôpital Henri Mondor, Paris, describe four different cases of COVID-19 infection with ischemic arterial events: a myocardial infarction with high thrombus load, ischemic stroke on spontaneous thrombosis of the aortic valve, floating thrombus with mesenteric, splenic and renal infarction, and acute limb ischemia.


Allen B, El Shahawy O, Rogers ES, et al. Association of substance use disorders and drug overdose with adverse COVID-19 outcomes in New York City: January–October 2020, Journal of Public Health. J Pub Health 2020, published 26 December. Full-text:

What do you know about the relationships between substance use disorders (SUDs), overdose and COVID-19 severity and mortality? Patients with histories of SUD and drug overdose could face disproportionate risk of critical COVID-19 illness, is the answer by Bennett Allen et al. However, the authors concede that they cannot assure whether the outcomes were due to COVID-19 or unrelated because they adjusted for few comorbidities. In particular, due to missing data, body mass index was not assessed.


Beyond Corona

Editors. Tuberculosis and malaria in the age of COVID-19. Lancet Infect Dis 2021, published 1 January. Full-text:

Tuberculosis and malaria are greater long-term threats than COVID-19 and planning of resource allocation must account for that.



If you read German, read Kattwinkel T. Covid-19 im Kopf. Die Zeit 2020, published 25 December. Full-text:

Vergesslich, unkonzentriert oder sogar depressiv: Eine Corona-Infektion kann Spuren im Gehirn hinterlassen. Was über neurologische Schäden bekannt ist.



If you read French, read Herzberg N. Vaccins contre le Covid-19 : les raisons d’un record de vitesse. Le Monde 2020, published 23 December. Full-text :

Il a fallu moins d’un an pour mettre au point les premiers vaccins, au lieu de dix habituellement.


Roucaute D. Covid-19 : les différentes étapes de la réponse immunitaire face au coronavirus. Le Monde 2020, published 23 December. Full-text :

Les anticorps activés par l’organisme infecté par le SARS-CoV-2 n’ont pas la même durée de vie chez les hommes et chez les femmes.


Meyerfeld B. Brésil : à Manaus, le mirage de l’immunité collective contre le Covid-19. Le Monde 2020, published 23 December. Full-text :

Une étude estime que 76 % des habitants de la métropole amazonienne posséderaient des anticorps contre le coronavirus. Sur place, les médecins confrontés à la deuxième vague restent sceptiques.



If you read Spanish, read Ansede M. Respuestas para las principales dudas sobre las vacunas contra la covid. El País 2020, published 19 December. Full-text:

Media docena de expertos responden a cuestiones como la seguridad a largo plazo de las inyecciones y la duración de la protección en los vacunados.


Carbajosa a. Cómo Alemania ha pasado de país ejemplar a ver cómo las muertes por covid se disparan. El País 2020, published 19 December. Full-text:

Una mezcla de medidas demasiado suaves, tardanza en reaccionar y falsa sensación de seguridad llevan al alumno aventajado en la prevención a ser uno de los más golpeados por el virus.

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