Top 10: February 18

Copy-editor: Rob Camp


Paper of the Day

de Vries RD, Schmitz KS, Bovier Full-text:, et al. Intranasal fusion inhibitory lipopeptide prevents direct-contact SARS-CoV-2 transmission in ferrets. Science 2021, published 17 February. Full-text:

Matteo Porotto, Rory de Vries and colleagues propose a highly stable SARS-CoV-2 specific lipopeptide as a candidate antiviral for pre-exposure and early post-exposure prophylaxis for SARS-CoV-2 transmission in humans. Daily intranasal administration to ferrets completely prevented SARS-CoV-2 direct-contact transmission during 24-hour co-housing with infected animals, under stringent conditions that resulted in infection of 100% of untreated animals. The intranasal [SARSHRC-PEG4]2-chol peptide presented in this study is the first successful prophylaxis that prevents SARS-CoV-2 transmission in a relevant animal model, providing complete protection during a 24-hour period of intense direct contact.



Emanuel EJ, Bright R, Gounder C. A Dismal Spring Awaits Unless We Slow the Spread of Covid-19. The New York Times 2021, published 17 February. Full-text:

How soon life returns to normal depends on what we do now.



Hodcroft EB, Domman DB, Snyder DJ, et al. Emergence in late 2020 of multiple lineages of SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein variants affecting amino acid position 677. medRxiv 2021, posted 14 January. Full-text:

Emma Hodcroft et al. describe 7 newly identified coronavirus variants in the US with a mutation in spike position 677 (also named after birds, Mockingbird to Yellowhammer). The authors promise to keep an eye on S:677 polymorphisms for effects on proteolytic processing, cell tropism, and transmissibility.


Hoffmann M, Arora P, Groß R, et al. SARS-CoV-2 variants B.1.351 and B.1.1.248: Escape from therapeutic antibodies and antibodies induced by infection and vaccination. medRxiv 2021, posted 11 February. Full-text:

Stefan Pöhlmann, Markus Hoffmann and colleagues show that B1351 (first detected in South Africa) and P1 (alias B11248, first detected in Brazil) were partially (casirivimab, in REGN-COV2, Regeneron) or fully (bamlanivimab, Lilly) resistant to monoclonal antibodies and was less efficiently inhibited by serum/plasma from convalescent individuals or those vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.



Collier D, Ferreira I, Datir R, et al. Age-related heterogeneity in Neutralising antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 following BNT162b2 vaccination. MedRxiv 2021, posted 16 February. Full-text:

Ravindra Gupta, Dami Collier and colleagues present a study of the immune response to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in people aged 80 or older compared to younger people. Three weeks after the first dose a lower proportion of participants over 80 years old achieved an adequate neutralization titer of > 1:20 for 50% neutralization as compared to those under 80 (8/17 versus 19/24, p = 0,03); however, T cell responses were not different in those above or below 80 years. Following the second dose, 50% neutralizing antibody titers were above 1:20 in all individuals and there was no longer a difference by age.


Remmel A. COVID vaccines and safety: what the research says. Nature 2021, published 16 February. Full-text:

It is clear that coronavirus vaccines are safe and effective, but as more are rolled out, researchers are learning about the extent and nature of side effects.



Purdy A, Ido F, Sterner S, et al. Myocarditis in COVID-19 presenting with cardiogenic shock: a case series. European Heart Journal – Case Reports, Volume 5, Issue 2, 16 February 2021. Full-text:

Adam Purdy and colleagues describe two cases of COVID-19 induced myocarditis presenting with cardiogenic shock. These cases highlight the importance of recognizing late presentation viral myocarditis secondary to COVID-19 infection, even in patients without underlying cardiac disease.


Lecler A, Cotton F, Lersy F, Kremer S, Héran F; SFNR’s COVID Study Group. Ocular MRI Findings in Patients with Severe COVID-19: A Retrospective Multicenter Observational Study. Radiology. 2021 Feb 16:204394. PubMed: Full-text:

Augustin Lecler et al. report a series of patients with severe COVID-19 presenting with abnormal MRI findings of the ocular globe, showing that 7% of patients with severe COVID-19 presented with one or several nodules of the posterior pole of the globe.


Severe COVID

Zeberg H, Pääbo S. A genomic region associated with protection against severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neandertals. PNAS 2021, published 2 March. Full-text:

Svante Pääbo and Hugo Zeberg show that a haplotype on chromosome 12, which is associated with a ∼22% reduction in relative risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 when infected by SARS-CoV-2, is inherited from the Neanderthals. A great thanks to them!



Blatz AM, Oboite M, Chiotos K, et al. Cutaneous findings in SARS-CoV-2-associated Multisystem Inflammatory Disease in Children (MIS-C). Open Forum Infectious Diseases, published 16 February. Full-text:

The differential diagnosis of pediatric rash in times of COVID.



If you read German, read Hecking C. Adiós Corona-Tristesse. Der Spiegel, 17 February. Full-text:

Badewetter, offene Restaurants, Glasfaser-Internet: Hunderte Deutsche verbringen den Shutdown-Winter auf La Gomera. Hier können sie entspannen. Denn die Kanareninsel ist fast virusfrei – zumindest offiziell.


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