Top 10: December 29


Mahase E. Covid-19: What have we learnt about the new variant in the UK? BMJ 2020, published 23 December. Full-text:

The new SARS-CoV-2 variant has evoked scenes reminiscent of the early days of COVID-19 when much of the world banned travel to and from Wuhan, China. With large parts of south-east England locked down, Elisabeth Mahase looks at what we know so far.

Copy-editor: Rob Camp


Tinson A, Clair A. Better housing is crucial for our health and the COVID-19 recovery. The Health Foundation 2020, published 28 December. Full-text:

In this Long read, Adam Tinson and Amy Clair summarize why housing problems are likely to be a significant component of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic that has led to greater risks of COVID-19 infection and serious complications for certain social groups. The authors conclude that overcrowding, poor quality and unaffordable homes are a threat to health.



Pilarowski G, Marquez C, Rubio L, et al. Field performance and public health response using the BinaxNOW TM Rapid SARS-CoV-2 antigen detection assay during community-based testing. Clin Infect Dis 2020, published 27 December. Full-text:

SARS-CoV-2 pandemic control calls for fast, low-barrier, high-performing field assays accessible to people who will not otherwise be tested or who will receive results too late for results to make a difference. Here, Diane Havlir, Genay Pilarowski and colleagues evaluated the Abbott BinaxNOWTM COVID-19 antigen card rapid assay performance for detection of persons with high levels of virus and measured the time to isolation in a community walk-up “test and respond” program. Among 3302 persons tested by BinaxNOWTM and RT-PCR in a community setting, rapid assay sensitivity was 100%/98.5%/89% using RT-PCR Ct thresholds of 30, 35 and 0. The specificity was 99.9%. Performance was high across ages and those both with and without symptoms. Rapid results may permit immediate public health action.



Narang K, Szymanski LM, Kane SV, Rose CH. Acute Pancreatitis in a Pregnant Patient With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Obstet Gynecol 2020, published 22 December. PubMed: Full-text:

Coronavirus disease 2019 may present in pregnancy with a myriad of clinical symptoms other than respiratory. Acute pancreatitis represents an infrequent complication of primary COVID-19 infection.


Severe COVID

Feng Z, Zhao H, Kang W, et al. Association of Paraspinal Muscle Measurements on Chest Computed Tomography with Clinical Outcomes in Patients with Severe Coronavirus Disease 2019. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2020 Dec 23:glaa317. PubMed: Full-text:

For elderly patients in intensive care units or with critical illness, skeletal muscle loss adversely affects clinical outcomes. Here, Pengfei Rong, Zhishao Feng and colleagues from Third Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, report that higher paraspinal muscle radiodensity (PMD), a proxy measure of lower muscle fat deposition, may be associated with a reduced risk of disease deterioration and decreased likelihood of prolonged viral shedding among female patients with severe COVID-19.


Collateral Effects

Gergen AK, Madsen HJ, Tilva KR, Smith JB, Weyant MJ. Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Lung Transplant Recipients. Ann Thorac Surg. 2020 Dec 18:S0003-4975(20)32134-2. PubMed: Full-text:

The authors report risk factors, clinical manifestations, and treatment course of two lung transplant recipients diagnosed with COVID-19 pneumonia. After being hospitalized and later discharged home, both patients were readmitted several days later with significant worsening of respiratory status and infectious symptoms.


Martire LM, Isaacowitz DM. What Can We Learn About Psychological Aging By Studying Covid-19? The Journals of Gerontology: Series B 2020, published 26 December. Full-text:

The authors give a short overview of papers about Americans living under varying social and travel restrictions; individuals living in Sweden during a period of voluntary social distancing; individuals living in Spain during a mandatory lockdown; older age predicting better or worse functioning; the ability of elderly people to deal with adversity; and the importance of using behavioral research to reduce ageism and promote intergenerational solidarity.



If you read Spanish, read Sabatés R, Vande Rusten P. 21 recuerdos para 2021. El País 2020, published 28 December. Full-text:

El fútbol español ha intentado aportar un poco de alegría y de entretenimiento al mundo entero en este año marcado por la pandemia. Estos son los momentos que más recordaremos


Domínguez N. La madre de la vacuna contra la covid: “En verano podremos, probablemente, volver a la vida normal” – El País 2020, published 28 December. Full-text:

La bioquímica húngara Katalin Karikó pasó 40 años trabajando en la sombra y desarrollando avances claves para las inyecciones de Moderna y BioNTech


Bassets M. Futuro, año cero. El País 2020, published 28 December. Full-text:

Tras meses fuera de órbita, en 2021 toca poner los pies en el suelo. ¿Emprenderemos la recuperación de la crisis sanitaria y económica? ¿Lucharemos seriamente contra el cambio climático? ¿Se reforzarán las fronteras y se beneficiarán los demagogos? Especialistas de la economía, el pensamiento o la geopolítica hacen sus apuestas



If you read French, read Truong N. Claire Marin : « Il va falloir peut-être admettre que 2020 nous prépare douloureusement à l’idée de devoir vivre autrement » – Le Monde 2020, published 27 December. Full-text :

Entretien« Les penseurs de l’intime » (5/10). Philosophe des épreuves de la vie, Claire Marin explique dans un entretien au « Monde » comment la crise sanitaire accentue les ruptures sociales, professionnelles ou familiales et nous prépare « douloureusement à vivre autrement » en 2021.



If you read German, read Schöps C. Diese Impfreaktionen sind ganz normal. Die Zeit 2020, published 23 December. Full-text:

Arm geschwollen, Kopfschmerz, Fieber, all das kann nach der Impfung gegen das Coronavirus passieren. Sorgen muss man sich deshalb aber keineswegs machen.



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