Top 10: January 19

Copy-editor: Rob Camp


* * * Paper of the Day * * *

Gaebler C, Wang Z, Lorenzi JCC, et al. Evolution of antibody immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Nature (2021). Full-text:

After recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection, people can make potent antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 that evolve in the months after infection. These antibodies may be evolving in response to residual viral antigen hidden in the gut.



Oliva C, Di Maddaloni F, Marcellusi A, Favato G. Cross-regional variations of Covid-19 mortality in Italy: an ecological study. J Public Health 2021, published 18 January. Full-text:

Four independent variables best explained the cross-regional differences in the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19: the force of infection, population density, number of elderly living in assisted facilities and the standard rate of diabetes.


Nørgaard SK, Vestergaard LS, Nielsen J, et al. Real-time monitoring shows substantial excess all-cause mortality during second wave of COVID-19 in Europe, October to December 2020. Euro Surveill. 2021 Jan;26(2). PubMed: Full-text:

No comment.



Gravagnuolo AM, Faqih L, Cronshaw C, et al. Epidemiological Investigation of New SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern 202012/01 in England. medRxiv 2021, posted 15 January. Full-text:

The proportion in England of B117 (the new Variant of Concern) increased rapidly in December 2020 rising to over 70% of strong positive test results at the beginning of January 2021.



Mathai V, Das A, Bailey JA, Breuer K. Airflows inside passenger cars and implications for airborne disease transmission. Sci Adv. 2020 Dec 4;7(1):eabe0166. PubMed: Full-text:

Are you afraid of driving with friends and family in your car because you remember that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is facilitated by exhaled droplets and aerosols suspended in air for extended periods of time? Then study the complex fluid dynamics during everyday commutes. The authors also reveal non-intuitive ways in which open windows can either increase or suppress airborne transmission. The preliminary recommendation by Varghese Mathai and colleagues: open the two windows farthest from the occupants (front right and rear left, respectively) which would give better protection to the passenger. See also the press article by Anthes E. How to (Literally) Drive the Coronavirus Away. The New York Times 2021, published 16 January. Full-text:


Samet JM, Prather K, Benjamin G, et al. Airborne Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: What We Know. Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Jan 18:ciab039. PubMed: Full-text:

This perspective examines the potential for airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 using a source-to-dose framework that begins with generation of virus-containing droplets and aerosols and ends with the virus depositing in the respiratory tract of a susceptible individual. The authors ask four critical questions and summarize what we know (accepted manuscript).


Shah K, Kandre Y, Mavalankar D. Secondary attack rate in household contacts of COVID-19 Paediatric index cases: a study from Western India. J Public Health (Oxf). 2021 Jan 18:fdaa269. PubMed: Full-text:

The secondary attack rate (SAR) in household contacts of pediatric index cases may be as low as 1,7%. In this study from Gujarat, India, SAR was closely associated with the family size of the index cases. The authors conclude that home quarantine should be advocated for in smaller families with appropriate isolation facilities. Next week: what to do in larger families. (JOKE!)



Cheng XP, Cheng MP, Gu W, et al. Cell-Free DNA Tissues-of-Origin by Methylation Profiling Reveals Significant Cell, Tissue and Organ-Specific injury related to COVID-19 Severity. Cell Med 2021, published 16 January. Full-text:

A blood test to broadly quantify cell, tissue, and organ-specific injury due to COVID-19? That’s what Iwijn De Vlaminck and colleagues propose after performing cell-free DNA (cfDNA) profiling on 104 plasma samples from 33 COVID-19 patients. The authors suggest that cfDNA profiling – an easy-to-obtain molecular blood test – might provide quantifiable prognostic parameters and a more granular assessment of clinical severity at the time of presentation.



If you read Spanish, read Güell O, Mouzo J. Covid persistente: las secuelas que no se van. El País 2021, published 18 January. Full-text:

El reto de tratar a muchos pacientes que sufren fatiga y otros síntomas hasta seis meses después de superar la enfermedad.


Bueno Ballesteros A. Vacunas con firma de mujer. El País 2021, published 18 January. Full-text:

A veces olvidamos que nuestra calidad de vida actual debe mucho a las vacunas. Y las vacunas deben también mucho a un buen puñado de mujeres.



If you read French, read Bezat JM. Covid-19 : « C’est par des biotechs que l’industrie pharmaceutique a produit un miracle : la mise au point en un an de plusieurs vaccins efficaces ». Le Monde 2021, published 18 January. Full-text :

Les partenariats noués entre les poids lourds et les poids légers très innovants du secteur, conjugués aux aides d’Etat et aux précommandes massives des gouvernements, ont permis cette percée scientifique.



If you read German, read Stöcker C. Der schlimmste, ärgste, längste Fehler. Der Spiegel 2021, published 17 January. Full-text:

Nirgends haben Politik und RKI hierzulande mehr Fehler gemacht als beim Thema Masken. Sogar Impfstoffe waren schneller verfügbar als der einfachste wirksame Schutz für alle – ein historisches Versagen.

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