Top 10: May 6

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By Christian Hoffmann &
Bernd S. Kamps

6 May


Chou R, Dana T, Buckley DI, Selph S, Fu R, Totten AM. Epidemiology of and Risk Factors for Coronavirus Infection in Health Care Workers: A Living Rapid Review. Ann Intern Med. 2020 May 5. pii: 2765801. PubMed: Full-text:

This review summarizes the risk factors for coronavirus infections in HCWs. There was evidence that more consistent and full use of recommended PPE measures was associated with decreased risk for infection, suggesting a dose–response relationship. This association was most consistent for masks but was also observed for gloves, gowns, and eye protection, as well as handwashing. Some evidence was found that N95 masks might be associated with decreased risk for infection versus surgical masks. Evidence also indicated an association between certain exposures (such as involvement in intubations, direct contact with infected patients, or contact with bodily secretions).


Lai S, Ruktanonchai NW, Zhou L, et al. Effect of non-pharmaceutical interventions to contain COVID-19 in China. Nature. 2020 May 4. PubMed: Full-text:

Another study on the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in China. Without NPIs, the COVID-19 cases would likely have shown a 67-fold increase (interquartile range 44-94) by February 29. Early detection and isolation of cases was estimated to have prevented more infections than travel restrictions and contact reductions, but combined NPIs achieved the strongest and most rapid effect. The lifting of travel restrictions does not appear to lead to an increase in cases if social distancing interventions are maintained.



Thao TTN, Labroussaa F, Ebert N, et al. Rapid reconstruction of SARS-CoV-2 using a synthetic genomics platform. Nature. 2020 May 4. PubMed: Full-text:

An important technical advance, enabling the rapid generation and functional characterization of evolving RNA virus variants. The authors show the functionality of a yeast-based synthetic genomics platform to genetically reconstruct diverse RNA viruses (which are cumbersome to clone and manipulate due to size and instability). They were able to engineer and resurrect chemically-synthetized clones of SARS-CoV-2 in only a week after receipt of the synthetic DNA fragments.


Cyranoski D. Profile of a killer: the complex biology powering the coronavirus pandemic. Nature. 2020, 581, 22-26. Full-text:

Fantastic, a thrilling feature on what we know about how the virus operates, where it came from and what it might do next. Leading scientists are asked about their hypotheses and current research projects on the origin and on the heterogeneity of the clinical course of COVID-19.


Lau SY, Wang P, Mok BW, et al. Attenuated SARS-CoV-2 variants with deletions at the S1/S2 junction. Emerg Microbes Infect. 2020 Dec;9(1):837-842. PubMed: Full-text:

Viral variants which contain 15-30-bp deletions (Del-mut) or point mutations respectively at the S1/S2 junction are described. Some of them were less pathogenic in a hamster model. It would be interesting to see the prevalence of these variants in asymptomatic infected cases. The potential of the Del-mut variants as an attenuated vaccine or laboratory tool should also be evaluated.



Hu L, Chen S, Fu Y, et al. Risk Factors Associated with Clinical Outcomes in 323 COVID-19 Hospitalized Patients in Wuhan, China. Clin Infect Dis. 2020 May 3. PubMed: Full-text:

In multivariate regression, age > 65 years, smoking, critical disease status, diabetes, high hypersensitive troponin I (>0.04 pg/mL), leukocytosis (>10 x 109/L) and neutrophilia (>75 x 109/L) predicted unfavorable clinical outcomes. Of note, the administration of hypnotics was significantly associated with favorable outcomes (p<0.001). Dexzopiclone, a drug for insomnia, was administered at a dose of 1.0 mg per day to 82 patients for the duration of their hospitalization. Overall, favorable outcomes were recorded for these patients, including a better survival rate. Hypnotics may be an effective ancillary treatment for COVID-19.


Du RH, Liang LR, Yang CQ, et al. Predictors of Mortality for Patients with COVID-19 Pneumonia Caused by SARS-CoV-2: A Prospective Cohort Study. Eur Respir J. 2020 Apr 8. PubMed: Full-text:

Among their 179 COVID-19 patients, the authors identified four risk factors, age ≥65 years, pre-existing concurrent cardiovascular or cerebrovascular diseases, CD3+CD8+ T cells ≤75 cell·μL-1, and cardiac troponin I ≥0.05 ng·mL-1. Especially the latter two factors were predictors for mortality. Two predictive models for in-hospital mortality are presented.


Menter T, Haslbauer JD, Nienhold R, et al. Post-mortem examination of COVID19 patients reveals diffuse alveolar damage with severe capillary congestion and variegated findings of lungs and other organs suggesting vascular dysfunction. Histopathology. 2020 May 4. PubMed: Full-text:

Post-mortem examination of 21 COVID-19 cases, indicating a strong virus-induced vascular dysfunction. Interesting co-finding: 65% of the deceased patients had blood group A. Coincidence? Probably not. Blood group A may be associated with the failure of pulmonary microcirculation and coagulopathies in COVID-1. Another explanation could be the direct interaction between antigen A and the viral S protein, thus facilitating virus entry via ACE2.


Bowles L, Platton S, Yartey N, et al. Lupus Anticoagulant and Abnormal Coagulation Tests in Patients with Covid-19. NEJM May 5, 2020. Full-text:

Of 216 patients with SARS-CoV-2, 44 (20%) were found to have a prolonged aPTT. After excluding 9 patients, 31/34 (91%) had positive lupus anticoagulant assays. As this is not associated with a bleeding tendency, authors recommend that prolonged aPTT should not be a barrier to the use of anticoagulation therapies in the prevention and treatment of venous thrombosis.



Parri N, Lenge M, Buonsenso D. Children with Covid-19 in Pediatric Emergency Departments in Italy. N Engl J Med. 2020 May 1. PubMed: Full-text:

Among a total of 100 children with SARS-CoV-2 from Italy, 21% were asymptomatic, 58% had mild disease, 19% had moderate disease, 1% had severe disease, and 1% were in critical condition.