Top 10: December 5

Copy-editor: Rob Camp


Ledford H, Cyranoski D, Van Noorden R. The UK has approved a COVID vaccine — here’s what scientists now want to know. Nature 2020, published 3 December. Full-text:

The Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine has passed safety and efficacy tests — but scientists still have many questions about how this and other vaccines will perform as they’re rolled out to millions of people.


Danaiya Usher A. South Africa and India push for COVID-19 patents ban. Lancet 2020, published 5 December. Full-text:

South Africa and India want the World Trade Organization to temporarily suspend intellectual property rights so that COVID-19 vaccines and other new technologies are accessible for poor countries. Right on.


Widge AT, Rouphael NG, Jackson LA. Durability of Responses after SARS-CoV-2 mRNA-1273 Vaccination. N Engl J Med 2020, published 3 December. Full-text: Full-text:

The correlates of protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection are not yet established. In this short letter, Alicia Widge et al. report the results of immunogenicity studies 3 months after the second vaccination with mRNA-1273. (The 57 days results were published by Jackson et al. in July and Anderson et al. in September.) The data shows that mRNA-1273 produced high levels of binding and neutralizing antibodies that declined slightly over time but they remained elevated in all participants 3 months after the booster vaccination. The authors conclude that mRNA-1273 has the potential to provide durable humoral immunity. Studies of vaccine-induced B cells are ongoing.

Figure 1. Time Course of SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Binding and Neutralization Responses after mRNA-1273 Vaccination. | Shown are data from 34 participants who were stratified according to age: 18 to 55 years of age (15 participants), 56 to 70 years of age (9 participants), and 71 years of age or older (10 participants). All the participants received… | Continue reading at


Dooling K, McClung N, Chamberland M, et al. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ Interim Recommendation for Allocating Initial Supplies of COVID-19 Vaccine — United States, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 3 December 2020. Full-text:

Over the coming weeks and months, demand for vaccines will exceed supply. In the initial phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program, both health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities should be offered priority vaccination.



Podewils LJ, Burket TL, Mettenbrink C, et al. Disproportionate Incidence of COVID-19 Infection, Hospitalizations, and Deaths Among Persons Identifying as Hispanic or Latino — Denver, Colorado March–October 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1812–1816. Full-text:

COVID-19 disproportionately affected Hispanic persons in Denver, US. Overall, the proportions of COVID-19 cases (55%), hospitalizations (62%), and deaths (51%) among Hispanic adults were approximately double the proportion of Hispanic adults in the Denver community (24,9%). Among adults with COVID-19, Hispanic persons reported larger household sizes and more known COVID-19 household exposure, working in essential industries, working while ill, and delays in testing after symptom onset.

Figure. Adult COVID-19 cases, by race/ethnicity and reported week — Denver, Colorado, March 01–October 03, 2020


Horton R. Offline: COVID-19—what have we learned so far? Lancet 2020, published 5 December. Full-text:

Richard Horton, the Lancet Editor-in-Chief, briefly discusses what we have discovered in 2020 and how these discoveries might inform our future.



Patterson EI, Elia G, Grassi A, et al. Evidence of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in cats and dogs from households in Italy. Nat Commun 11, 6231 (2020). Full-text:

A pre-print paper we presented on 27 July has now been published in Nat Commun. In the final version, Nicola Decaro and colleagues describe SARS-CoV-2 infection in 919 companion animals in northern Italy at the height of the spring 2020 epidemic. Although no animals tested PCR positive, 3,3% of dogs and 5,8% of cats had measurable SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody titers, with dogs from COVID-19 positive households being significantly more likely to test positive than those from COVID-19 negative households. From their experience, the authors conclude that it is unlikely that infected pets play an active role in SARS-CoV-2 transmission to humans. Only under special circumstances, such as the high animal population densities encountered on infected mink farms, might animal-to-human transmission be more likely.


Severe COVID

Bramante CT, Ingraham NE, Murray TA, et al. Metformin and risk of mortality in patients hospitalised with COVID-19: a retrospective cohort analysis. Lancet Healthy Longevity 2020, published 3 December. Full-text:

Metformin for women with obesity or type 2 diabetes who are hospitalized for COVID-19? This is the suggestion of a retrospective cohort analysis by Carolyn Bramante from the University of Minnesota. Metformin was associated with decreased mortality in women by Cox proportional hazards (HR 0·785, 95% CI 0·650–0·951) and propensity matching (OR 0·759, 95% CI 0·601–0·960, p = 0·021). If these findings are reproduced in prospective studies, the safe and inexpensive drug might be used for prevention of COVID-19 mortality. There was no significant reduction in mortality among men.

Figure 3. Survival among women and among men, comparing those without metformin to those with metformin. (A) Cox proportional hazards model. (B) Propensity-matched model. HR=hazard ratio. OR=odds ratio.


See also the comment by Dardano A, Del Prato S. Metformin: an inexpensive and effective treatment in people with diabetes and COVID-19? Lancet Healthy Longevity 2020, published 3 December. Full-text:



Ceulemans LJ, Van Slambrouck J, De Leyn, P, et al. Successful double-lung transplantation from a donor previously infected with SARS-CoV-2. Lancet Respir Med 2020 published 1 December. Full-text:

Laurens Ceulemans from the University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium, report a successful double-lung transplantation from a donor exposed to SARS-CoV-2 who had mild COVID-19-like symptoms 3 months earlier. The lungs were successfully transplanted without viral transmission to the recipient, as shown by repetitive bronchoalveolar lavage and serology after transplantation.

Figure 2. Imaging of the donor lungs. (A) Chest CT scan of lung allografts before donation excluding inflammation or lung fibrosis (coronal plane). (B) Histology of the peripheral lung biopsy sample revealing… | Continue reading at

See also the Video abstract: and the comment by Meyer KC. Risks of lung transplantation in the SARS-CoV-2 era. Lancet Respir Med 2020 published 1 December. Full-text:



Mair S. Neoliberal economics, planetary health, and the COVID-19 pandemic: a Marxist ecofeminist analysis. Lancet Planetary Health 2020, published in December 2020. Full-text:

The global capitalist economy has unprecedented productive capacity. Might it also use this capacity to create the conditions that improve and maintain people’s health? If you want to explore key concepts from the ecological, feminist, and Marxist perspectives of the economy, this Personal View by Simon Mair is for you.

Figure 1. The embedded economy model.



If you read Spanish, read Sampedro J. El mundo rico se vacunará en 2021. El País 2020, published 3 December. Full-text:

Los países en desarrollo tendrán que esperar dos años más.


Ansede M, Galocha A. Las enormes diferencias entre las vacunas de Pfizer, Moderna y Oxford. El País 2020, published 24 November. Full-text:

Los tres candidatos más avanzados contra la covid se distinguen en factores como su precio, que varía entre tres y 21 euros por dosis, y su temperatura de conservación.


Sevillano EG. “Autorizar la vacuna de emergencia es correr un riesgo que no parece justificado” – El País 2020, published 3 December. Full-text:

“En una situación en la que no parece que vayamos a peor, en adelantar en una semana o dos la vacunación tendría que haber un beneficio potencial muy grande”, dice César Hernández, jefe del Departamento de Medicamentos de Uso Humano de la Aemps.


Moreno C. Malentendidos, desconexión con el resto del equipo, ansiedad: la cara oculta del teletrabajo. El País 2020, published 30 November. Full-text:

Tener la oficina en casa conlleva retos para los que no nos habían preparado. Y quizá haya que ir preparándose para convivir mucho tiempo con ellos.



If you read French, read Dagorn G. Comment fonctionnent les futurs vaccins contre le Covid-19. Le Monde 2020, published 4 December. Full-text:

On compte aujourd’hui 237 projets de vaccins contre le Covid-19 dans le monde, développés selon des techniques très différentes. Voici comment ils agissent.


Damgé M, Parienté J, Audureau W, Maad A, Aubert R. Combien de vaccins ? Quand seront-ils disponibles ? Seront-ils obligatoires ? Peuvent-ils mettre fin à l’épidémie de Covid -19 ? Full-text :

Nos réponses à vos questions.


Home / Today | Last 14 Days | Archive | Download

By Christian Hoffmann &
Bernd Sebastian Kamps

Copy-editor: Rob Camp