Top 10: July 24

Home | TOP 10 | TOP 10 BOOK (PDF)

By Christian Hoffmann &
Bernd S. Kamps

24 July

Deutsch | Español | Français | Italiano | Português | Tiếng Việt | Turkish | Pусский | عربى | 中文
Google Translate
has an excellent reputation for accuracy, but it isn’t perfect and does make mistakes. So use it with caution. In particular, be careful in relying on Google Translate for any important matter (health, treatment, etc.). In case of doubt, ask your friends.


4th Edition: Covid Reference España

Descarga la 4a Edición (240 páginas; nuevo formato: 15×23 cm)


Candido DS, Claro M, de Jesus JG, et al. Evolution and epidemic spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Brazil. Science 23 Jul 2020:eabd2161. Full-text:

Using a mobility-driven transmission model, the authors show that non-pharmaceutical interventions (lockdowns, etc) reduced the reproduction number from > 3 to 1 – 1.6 in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In addition, after sequencing hundreds of genomes, they identified > 100 international virus introductions in Brazil with 76% of Brazilian strains falling into three clades that were introduced from Europe between 22 February and 11 March 2020. Finally, the study provides evidence that the current interventions (in an insalubrious political environment – note of the CR editor) remain insufficient to keep virus transmission under control in Brazil.


Havers FP, Reed C, Lim T, et al. Seroprevalence of Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in 10 Sites in the United States, March 23-May 12, 2020. JAMA Intern Med. 2020 Jul 21. PubMed: Full-text:

This cross-sectional study reports the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in samples collected from March 23 through May 12, 2020, in 12 US sites from San Francisco to New York City. Adjusted estimates of the proportion of seropositive persons ranged from 1.0% in the San Francisco Bay area (collected April 23-27) to 6.9% of persons in New York City (collected March 23-April 1). The estimated number of SARS-CoV-2 infections is around 10 times the number of reported cases.



Günther T, Czech-Sioli M, Indenbirken D, et al. Investigation of a superspreading event preceding the largest meat processing. Pre-print available at

In June, more than 1,400 employees at a meat-processing plant (MPP) in Germany were infected with SARS-CoV-2. Now a research group led by virologist Melanie Brinkmann (Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Braunschweig) reconstructed how the virus was transmitted in the company. The first employees who became infected worked the early shift (147 workers), mostly in a fixed position on the conveyor belt. The evaluation of these positions showed that the risk of infection was greatest within a distance of eight meters from the first infected individual. In order words: a distance of 1.5 or two meters, which is currently thought (and instituted!) as relatively safe in most situations, was far from sufficient. The authors conclude that climate conditions (10° C ambient air temperature) and airflow are important factors that can promote spread of SARS-CoV-2 via distances of more than 8 meters. These findings may have far-reaching implications for pandemic mitigation strategies in industrial workplace settings.


Yamagishi T, Ohnishi M, Matsunaga N, et al. Environmental sampling for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 during COVID-19 outbreak in the Diamond Princess cruise ship. J Infect Dis. 2020 Jul 21:jiaa437. PubMed: Full-text:

In the early epidemic in Japan, many infections occurred among the passengers and crew members on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in February, 2020. By March 1, 2020, there were approximately 700 individuals with laboratory-detected SARS-CoV-2 infection (see the previous articles by Russell et al., Yamagishi et al. and Tabata et al.). The authors performed environmental sampling on the Diamond Princess cruise ship on 22-23 February 2020 (prior to disinfection of the vessel and while some passengers and crew members remained aboard) and obtained specimens from cabins in which confirmed COVID-19 cases stayed (case cabins), cabins with no confirmed case at any point (non-case cabins), and common areas. SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected from 58 out of 601 samples (10%) from case cabins 1-17 days after the cabins were vacated, but not from non-case cabins. There was no difference in the detection proportion between cabins for symptomatic (15%, 28/189) and asymptomatic cases (21%, 28/131). No SARS-CoV-2 virus was isolated from any of the samples. The authors conclude that transmission risk of SARS-CoV-2 from symptomatic and asymptomatic patients may be similar and environmental surfaces could be involved in viral transmission.



Hsieh CL, Goldsmith JA, Schaub M, et al. Structure-based design of prefusion-stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spikes. Science, 23 Jul 2020. Full-text:

High-yield production of a stabilized prefusion spike protein will accelerate the development of vaccines and serological diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2. After characterizing 100 structure-guided spike designs and 26 individual substitutions that increased protein yields and stability, the authors identified a promising variant, HexaPro, which contained four beneficial proline substitutions (F817P, A892P, A899P, A942P) as well as the two proline substitutions of previously described prefusion spikes. HexaPro had the ability to withstand heat stress, storage at room temperature, and three freeze-thaw cycles. The authors anticipate that “the high yield and enhanced stability of HexaPro should enable industrial production of subunit vaccines and could also improve DNA or mRNA-based vaccines by producing more antigen per nucleic acid molecule, thus improving efficacy at the same dose or maintaining efficacy at lower doses.”


Lv Z, Deng YQ, Ye Q, et al. Structural basis for neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV by a potent therapeutic antibody. Science 23 Jul 2020: eabc5881. Full-text: Full-text:

The authors report a humanized monoclonal antibody, H014, which neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV pseudoviruses as well as authentic SARS-CoV-2 at nanomolar level by engaging the S receptor binding domain. In the hACE2 mouse model, H014 reduced SARS-CoV-2 titers in the infected lungs and prevented pulmonary pathology. H014 seems to prevent attachment of SARS-CoV-2 to its host cell receptors. The authors are hopeful that antibody-based therapeutic interventions might play a key role in the treatment of COVID-19.


Horton R. Offline: Preparing for a vaccine against COVID-19. Lancet, July 25, 2020. Full-text:

The British ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, the Chinese adenovirus type-5-vector vaccine and the American mRNA-1273 “give great encouragement to the view” that a vaccine can be produced within the next 18 months. But there are reasons for anxiety. Richard Horton takes you on a 3-minute tour.



Mallapaty S. The mathematical strategy that could transform coronavirus testing. Nature. 2020 Jul;583(7817):504-505. PubMed: Full-text:

Widespread testing is needed to get SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks under control but in many regions, there’s a shortage of the chemicals needed to run diagnostics. The solution: pooling samples from many people to save time and resources.



Mackey K, Kansagara D, Vela K. Update Alert 2: Risks and Impact of Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors or Angiotensin-Receptor Blockers on SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Adults. Ann Intern Med. 2020 Jul 23. PubMed: Full-text:

In this second monthly update of a living review (Medline), inclusion of three new meta-analyses and five new observational studies did not change the certainty of evidence rating reported in the original manuscript: there is high-certainty evidence that ACEI or ARB use is not associated with more severe COVID-19 disease.


Journal Feature

Arnold C. How computational immunology changed the face of COVID-19 vaccine development. Nature Med 2020, 15 July. Full-text:

When it comes to designing vaccines and antibody therapies, building a viable candidate can take years and cost tens of millions of dollars. By developing and investing in advanced computational tools, this process can be compressed into hours instead of years.


Beyond plate borders

Micheletti SJ, Bryc K, Ancona Esselmann SG, et al. Genetic Consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the Americas. Am J Hum Genet 2020, July 23. Full-text:

This investigation of the transatlantic slave trade establishes genetic links between individuals in the Americas and populations across Africa, yielding a more comprehensive understanding of the African roots of peoples in the Americas.