Top 10: February 14

Copy-editor: Rob Camp


Paper of the Day

Davies NG, Jarvis CI, CMMID COVID-19 Working Group, et al. Increased hazard of death in community-tested cases of SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern 202012/01. medRxiv 2021, posted 11 February. Full-text:

Another analysis suggesting that B117 may cause more severe illness. Nicholas Davies et al. analyzed a large database of SARS-CoV-2 community test results and COVID-19 deaths, representing 52% of all SARS-CoV-2 community tests in England from 1 September 2020 to 5 February 2021. The result: among B117 cases, the hazard of death may be more than 50% higher. For a male aged 55–69, the absolute risk of death would increase from 0,6% to 0,9% over the 28 days following a positive test in the community.



Jahn K, Dreifuss D, Topolsky I, et al. Detection of SARS-CoV-2 variants in Switzerland by genomic analysis of wastewater samples. medRxiv 2021, posted 9 February. Full-text:

Katharina Jahn et al. found evidence for the presence of several mutations that define B117 and B1351 in a sample from a Swiss ski resort from 9-21 December, two weeks before its first verification in a patient sample from Switzerland. The authors conclude that sequencing SARS-CoV-2 in community wastewater samples may help detect and monitor the circulation of diverse lineages.


Ward H, Atchison C, Whitaker M, et al. SARS-CoV-2 antibody prevalence in England following the first peak of the pandemic. Nat Commun 12, 905 (2021). Full-text:

According to this study by Paul Elliott, Helen Ward and colleagues, an estimated 3,4 million people had developed antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 by mid-July 2020. Prevalence was two- to three-fold higher among health and care workers compared with non-essential workers, and in people of Black or South Asian than white ethnicity. The authors conclude that higher hospitalization and mortality from COVID-19 in minority ethnic groups may reflect higher rates of infection rather than differential experience of disease or care.



Nanographics. High resolution renderings of SARS-CoV-2 Cryo-ET. Nanographics 2021, link:

This is the first 3D image of SARS-CoV-2 made from a single scan of frozen virus particles. The authors used cryo-electron tomography scans and added colors to distinguish different parts of the virus. They release the image under Creative Commons Attribution license, so that everyone can use them freely in their work.



Fontanet A, Autran B, Lina B, et al. SARS-CoV-2 variants and ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Lancet 2021, published 11 February. Full-text:

Arnaud Fontanet from the Pasteur Institute in Paris outlines the priorities to address in an environment with new SARS-CoV-2 variants:

  1. Continue to suppress and push to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 while rolling out COVID-19 vaccines
  2. Improve surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 variants through global sequencing and sharing of variant-specific PCR primers
  3. Create a central repository of samples of sera and cells from individuals with past infection or past immunization with available COVID-19 vaccines for sero-neutralization and cellular immunity functional testing against newly discovered variants
  4. Produce COVID-19 vaccines reactively and adapt them to newly emerging lineages
  5. Ensure global access, availability, and affordability of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure no countries are left behind



Saelens X, Schepens B. Single-domain antibodies make a difference. Science. 2021 Feb 12;371(6530):681-682. PubMed: Full-text:

Xavier Saelens and Bert Schepens comment on a paper we presented on 18 January. [Koenig PA, Das H, Liu H, et al. Structure-guided multivalent nanobodies block SARS-CoV-2 infection and suppress mutational escape ( the authors “describe four SARS-CoV-2–neutralizing single-domain antibodies, or VHHs, and combinations thereof that can disable spike function. This extends the growing list of reports on SARS-CoV-2 spike–specific single-domain antibodies that have been proposed as potential therapeutics for COVID-19 patients.”


Munitz A, Edry-Botzer L, Itan M, et al. Rapid seroconversion and persistent functional IgG antibodies in severe COVID-19 patients correlates with an IL-12p70 and IL-33 signature. Sci Rep 11, 3461 (2021). Full-text:

Ariel Munitz et al. describe a rapid, quantitative, accurate, and robust serological method to detect seroconversion upon SARS-CoV-2 infection and the neutralization potential of the detected antibodies. Their analysis of the cytokine profile in COVID-19 patients also revealed a unique correlation of an IL-12p70/IL33 and IgG seroconversion that correlated with disease severity.



Krammer F, Srivastava K, the PARIS team, Simon V. Robust spike antibody responses and increased reactogenicity in seropositive individuals after a single dose of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine. MedRxiv 2021, posted 1 February. Full-text:

Should individuals who already had SARS-CoV-2 infection receive one or two shots of the currently authorized mRNA vaccines? Florian Krammer et al. remind us that the antibody response to the first vaccine dose in individuals with pre-existing immunity is equal to or even exceeds the titers found in naïve individuals after the second dose. They conclude that giving only one dose of vaccine would not negatively impact on antibody titers and free up many urgently needed vaccine doses.


Wahl A, Gralinski LE, Johnson CE, et al. SARS-CoV-2 infection is effectively treated and prevented by EIDD-2801. Nature (2021). Full-text:

Victor Garcia, Angela Wahl and colleagues show that therapeutic and prophylactic administration of EIDD-2801 (Molnupiravir,  MKK-4482), an oral broad spectrum antiviral currently in Phase II–III clinical trials, dramatically inhibits SARS-CoV-2 replication in vivo and thus has significant potential for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.


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