Top 10: March 12

Copy-editor: Rob Camp

12 March


Paper of the Day

Stephenson KE, Le Gars M, Sadoff J, et al. Immunogenicity of the Ad26.COV2.S Vaccine for COVID-19. JAMA March 11, 2021.

The COVID-19 vaccine from Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) is the fourth vaccine recommended in the EU for preventing COVID-19. Ad26.COV2.S is a recombinant, replication-incompetent Ad26 vector encoding the full length and stabilized SARS-CoV-2 S protein derived from the first Wuhan strain. This phase I study (in 25 recipients from Boston) shows that a single immunization induced rapid binding and neutralization antibody responses as well as cellular immune responses, including induction of RBD-specific binding antibodies in 90% of vaccine recipients by day 8.


Vijayasingham L, Bischof E, Wolfe J. Sex-disaggregated data in COVID-19 vaccine trials. Lancet March 05, 2021.

Lavanya Vijayasingham and colleagues argue that sex factors, including sex-disaggregated analysis and reporting, are still neglected in COVID-19 trial data reporting.



Richard Q, Alizon S, Choisy M, et al. Age-structured non-pharmaceutical interventions for optimal control of COVID-19 epidemic. PLOS Computational Biology March 4, 2021.

Complex models, trying to elucidate that countries with contrasted population age-structures and social or physical contacts may need different NPIs.


Bokharaie VS. A study on the effects of containment policies and vaccination on the spread of SARS-CoV-2. PLOS March 4, 2021.

Same direction. A method to predict the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 in a population with a known age-structure, and then, to quantify the effects of various containment policies, including those policies that affect each age-group differently.


Mulenga LB, Hines JZ, Fwoloshi S, et al. Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in six districts in Zambia in July, 2020: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey. Lancet Global Health March 09, 2021.

Almost 1 in 100 diagnosed: According to this first large cross-sectional cluster-sample survey of households in Africa (performed in July), the number of laboratory-confirmed cases reported in official statistics in Zambia underestimated SARS-CoV-2 infections by a factor of 92.



Lythgoe KA, Hall M, Ferretti L, et al. SARS-CoV-2 within-host diversity and transmission. Science 09 Mar 2021: eabg0821 Full-text:

Katrina A. Lythgoe and colleagues deep-sequenced 1313 clinical samples from the UK. Interestingly, most samples harbored few intrahost variants, and estimated transmission bottleneck sizes were very small, with maximum likelihood estimates between 1 and 8 among household transmission pairs, meaning that if mutations do arise they will be prone to loss at the point of transmission. The results suggest that transmission-enhancing and/or immune-escape variants are likely to arise infrequently, but could spread rapidly if successfully transmitted.



Poletti P, Tirani M, Cereda D, et al. Association of Age With Likelihood of Developing Symptoms and Critical Disease Among Close Contacts Exposed to Patients With Confirmed SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Italy. JAMA Netw Open March 10, 2021;4(3):e211085.

Of 5484 quarantined case contacts who were monitored daily for symptoms for at least 2 weeks, 2824 (51.5%) tested positive. The proportion of infected persons who developed symptoms ranged from 18.1% (95% CI, 13.9%-22.9%) among participants younger than 20 years to 64.6% (95% CI, 56.6%-72.0%) for those aged 80 years or older.



Weng J, Li Y, Li J, et al. Gastrointestinal sequelae 90 days after discharge for COVID-19. Lancet Gastroenterology Hepatology March 9, 2021.

In this retrospective study from Hubei and Guangdong provinces, 52 (44%) of 117 patients reported gastrointestinal symptoms after discharge at a 90 day telephone interview: loss of appetite (24%), nausea (18%), acid reflux (18%), and diarrhoea (15%). Of note, severe illness during hospitalisation was not associated with post-discharge gastrointestinal sequelae.


Collateral damage (and benefits)

Maselli-Schoueri JH, Werneck de Carvalho LE, Affonso Fonseca FL, et al. Hospital Admissions Associated With Noncommunicable Diseases During the COVID-19 Outbreak in Brazil. JAMA Netw Open March 8, 2021; 4(3):e210799. Reduction in hospital admissions for NCDs from January to June 2020 compared with the corresponding period in each of the 3 previous years in São Paulo, Brazil. Decrease was 68% for musculoskeletal diseases, 44% for metabolic diseases, 38% for CVDs, and 35% for neoplasms.



Ozaki K, Reinhard CT. The future lifespan of Earth’s oxygenated atmosphere. Nat. Geosci. 14, 138–142 (2021).

We’d prefer to present other papers in this section. However, there is some good news: we’ll get some more weeks to find a potent treatment for SARS-CoV-2. Using a combined biogeochemistry and climate model to examine the likely timescale of oxygen-rich atmospheric conditions on Earth, these authors estimate that the mean future lifespan of Earth’s atmosphere, with oxygen levels more than 1% of the present atmospheric level, is 1.08 ± 0.14 billion years.


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