Top 10: February 17

Copy-editor: Rob Camp

17 February


Paper of the Day

Schultze JL, Aschenbrenner AC. COVID-19 and the human innate immune system. Cell 2021, published 16 February. Full-text:

Variability in innate immune system components is probably a main contributor to the heterogeneous disease courses observed for COVID-19. Here, Joachim Schultze and Anna Aschenbrenner of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn, Germany, link the clinical observations with experimental findings that have been made during the first year of the pandemic. They provide a conceptual framework for the interaction of the human innate immune system with SARS-CoV-2.



Phillips N. The coronavirus is here to stay — here’s what that means. Nature 2021, published 16 February. Full-text:

A Nature survey shows many scientists expect the virus that causes COVID-19 to become endemic, but it could pose less danger over time.



Marr L, Miller S, Prather K, et al. FAQs on Protecting Yourself from COVID-19 Aerosol Transmission. Cloud 2021, Version 1.87, 9 December. Full-text:

Excellent summary of aerosol protection.


Dattner I, Goldberg Y, Katriel G, et al. The role of children in the spread of COVID-19: Using household data from Bnei Brak, Israel, to estimate the relative susceptibility and infectivity of children. PLoS Comput Biol. 2021 Feb 11;17(2):e1008559. PubMed: Full-text:

The fact that the fraction of children among confirmed cases has been found to be low in many countries can be accounted for by two (non-exclusive) hypotheses: (1) Children display milder symptoms than adults when infected, so are less likely to be tested in a typical testing policy triggered by symptoms, (2) Children are less susceptible to infection than adults. The answer by Dattner and all? Both!



Sherina N, Piralla A, Du L, et al. Persistence of SARS-CoV-2 specific B- and T-cell responses in convalescent COVID-19 patients 6-8 months after the infection. Med 2021, published 10 February. Full-text:

Qiang Pan-Hammarström, Natalia Sherina and colleagues show that specific memory B and T cells develop in > 95% of COVID-19 patients and that memory B and T cell responses were maintained at least 6-8 months after infection. Levels of specific IgM/IgA antibodies declined after 1 month while levels of specific IgG antibodies and plasma neutralizing activities remained relatively stable up to 6 months after diagnosis. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies were still present, though at a significantly lower level, in 80% of the samples collected at 6-8 months after symptom onset. The authors analyzed 119 samples from 88 convalescent donors who experienced mild to critical disease.


Gentili M, Hacohen N. Some antibodies can dampen antiviral defences in people with severe COVID. Nature 2021, published 16 February. Full-text:

Defects in the immune defenses induced by the protein interferon are associated with some severe cases of COVID-19. An analysis of patient blood samples sheds light on how antibodies might contribute to these defects. Nir Hacohen and Matteo Gentili comment on a study we presented on January 28: Combes AJ, Courau T, Kuhn NF, et al. Global absence and targeting of protective immune states in severe COVID-19. Nature 2021, published 25 January. Full-text:



Chua L, McPheeb R, Huang W, et al. A preliminary report of a randomized controlled phase 2 trial of the safety and immunogenicity of mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Vaccine 2021, published 9 February. Full-text:

Half-doses (50 μg) of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine might be as good as full doses (100 ug) at eliciting robust immune responses.



Islam N, Lewington S, Kharbanda RK, et al. Sixty-day consequences of COVID-19 in patients discharged from hospital: an electronic health records study. Eur J Public Health 2021, published 15 February. Full-text:

Among patients discharged following admission for community-acquired COVID-19, there is a high rate of major adverse events, with about 30% of patients re-admitted or dead within 60 days. Nazrul Islam and colleagues followed COVID-19 patients discharged between 15 March and 14 July 2020 from hospitals in Oxfordshire, UK. Rates of re-admission or death were twice as high among those ≥ 65 years as those < 65 years [standardized rate ratio: 2,21 (95% CI: 1,45–3,56)] and among women than men [2,25 (1,05–4,18)].


Severe COVID

Schwab P, Mehrjou A, Parbhoo S, et al. Real-time prediction of COVID-19 related mortality using electronic health records. Nat Commun 12, 1058 (2021). Full-text:

Patrick Schwab et al. present the COVID-19 early warning system (CovEWS), a real-time early warning system for predicting mortality of COVID-19 positive patients, using routinely collected clinical measurements and laboratory results from electronic health records (EHRs). CovEWS predicted mortality from 78,8% (95% CI: 76,0, 84,7%) to 69,4% (95% CI: 57,6, 75,2%) specificity at sensitivities greater than 95% between, respectively, 1 and 192 h prior to mortality events.



If you read Spanish, read Ansede M. Las nuevas variantes del virus se enfrentan a los más de 100 millones de personas que ya han pasado la covid. El País 2021, published 16 February. Full-text:

La comunidad científica investiga si algunas mutaciones del coronavirus facilitan las reinfecciones.



If you read French, read Inserm. La souche historique du SARS-CoV-2 décroît alors que progression du variant britannique s’intensifie. INSERM 2021, published 15 February. Full-text :

Face à l’apparition des variants du SARS-COV2, les cartes de progression de l’épidémie de Covid 19 ont été rebattues. D’après les derniers scénarios élaborés par les chercheurs de l’Inserm sous la direction de Vittoria Colizza, le variant « britannique » pourrait devenir dominant en France la dernière semaine de février ou la première semaine de mars, avec de grandes disparités régionales. Pour le moment, le déploiement prévu de la vaccination aurait un impact limité sur ces trajectoires mais le renforcement des « mesures barrières » pourrait permettre de gagner du temps.

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