Top 10: November 11

Copy-editor: Rob Camp


Kurian SJ, Bhatti AUR, Alvi MA, et al. Correlations Between COVID-19 Cases and Google Trends Data in the United States: A State-by-State Analysis. Mayo Clin Proc. 2020 Nov;95(11):2370-2381. PubMed: Full-text:

Google might see a nascent epidemic two weeks before the first reported cases. This is the result of a study by Mohamad Bydon, Shyam J. Kurian and colleagues from Mayo Clinic, Rochester after developing a digital surveillance model using Google Trends. The authors searched the following keywords: COVID symptoms, coronavirus symptoms, sore throat+shortness of breath+fatigue+cough, coronavirus testing center, loss of smell, Lysol (sanitizer), antibody, face mask, coronavirus vaccine, and COVID stimulus check. Find out which one did best. The authors suggest that this information could enable better preparation and planning for health care systems.



Chang S, Pierson E, Koh PW. Mobility network models of COVID-19 explain inequities and inform reopening. Nature (2020). Full-text:

A small minority of “superspreader” events account for a large majority of infections. What we have known for a long time is now being confirmed by a mobility network model which mapped the hourly movements of 98 million people from neighborhoods to points of interest (POIs) such as restaurants and religious establishments. Jure Leskovec, Serina Chang and colleagues, connected 57,000 neighborhoods to 553,000 POIs and found that restricting maximum occupancy at each POI would be more effective than uniformly reducing mobility. Their model also correctly predicted higher infection rates among disadvantaged racial and socioeconomic groups: disadvantaged groups cannot reduce mobility as sharply as other groups and the POIs they visit are more crowded.


See also the comment by Ma KC, Lipsitch M. Big data and simple models used to track the spread of COVID-19 in cities. Nature 2020, published 10 November. Full-text:

See also Cyranoski D. How to stop restaurants from driving COVID infections. Nature 2020, published 10 November. Full-text: | US mobile data suggests restaurants, gyms and cafes can be COVID hotspots — and reveals strategies for limiting spread.



Walls AC, Fiala B, Schäfer A, et al. Elicitation of Potent Neutralizing Antibody Responses by Designed Protein Nanoparticle Vaccines for SARS-CoV-2. Cell. 2020 Oct 31:S0092-8674(20)31450-1. PubMed: Full-text:

Are self-assembling protein nanoparticles that display 60 SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding domains (RBDs) and induce neutralizing antibody titers comparable to those produced by people after SARS-CoV-2 infection? That’s what Neil King and David Veesler and colleagues from University of Washington, Seattle, US, report. The authors anticipate that manufacture of the nanoparticle vaccines might be very scalable.


McPartlin SO, Morrison J, Rohrig A, Weijer C. Covid-19 vaccines: Should we allow human challenge studies to infect healthy volunteers with SARS-CoV-2? BMJ. 2020 Nov 9;371:m4258. PubMed: Full-text:

The need for COVID-19 vaccines has prompted thousands of otherwise healthy people to volunteer to be infected with the virus to test candidate vaccines. Seán O’Neill McPartlin, Abie Rohrig, and Josh Morrison urge us to embrace the altruism of volunteers, but Charles Weijer argues that it would be dangerous and unjustified.



D’Alessio A, Del Poggio P, Bracchi F, et al. Low-dose ruxolitinib plus steroid in severe SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia. Leukemia (2020).

Results from a small non-randomized study might suggest a benefit from ruxolitinib in patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia not requiring mechanical ventilation at baseline. D’Alessio et al. report an analysis of 32 patients (Group A) who received ruxolitinib, a JAK 1/2 (Janus Kinase) inhibitor, and 43 patients who served as a control group (Group B). Ruxolitinib was administered orally at a dose of 5 mg twice daily for 7 days and then tapered to 5 mg daily to complete a 10-day course of treatment. All patients received methylprednisolone. Concomitant administration of hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir or remdesivir was not permitted during treatment with ruxolitinib. Kaplan–Meier estimates of the percentage of patients who were alive and clinically recovered at the end of follow-up were 89% for group A and 57% for group B (SE ± 6.1). As always: to be confirmed in larger trials.


Severe COVID

Wang F, Huang S, Gao R. Initial whole-genome sequencing and analysis of the host genetic contribution to COVID-19 severity and susceptibility. Cell Discov 6, 83 (2020). Full-text:

HLA-A*11:01, B*51:01, and C*14:02 alleles might predispose to severe COVID-19. This is the result of a host genetic study deeply sequencing and analyzing 332 COVID-19 patients categorized by varying levels of severity. Lei Liu, Fang Wang and colleagues conducted single-variant and gene-based association tests among five severity groups: asymptomatic, mild, moderate, severe, and critically ill patients. Find out more about genes involved in the interleukin-1 (IL-1) signaling pathway and the stability of the TMPRSS2 protein.


Collateral Effects

Abdallah HO, Zhao C, Kaufman E, et al. Increased Firearm Injury During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Hidden Urban Burden. J Am Coll Surg. 2020 Oct 26:S1072-7515(20)32413-3. PubMed: Full-text: mcollsurg.2020.09.028

Lockdown causes domicile discord which in turn causes more penetrating trauma? Jose Pascual, Hatem Abdallah and colleagues tested the hypothesis that intentional injury might have increased during stay-at-home-orders (SAHO) and assessed injury patterns from 6 weeks pre- to 10 weeks post- statewide stay-at-home order. 357 and 480 trauma patients presented pre- and post-SAHO, respectively. Pre- and post- groups demonstrated differences in sex, age, and race. Post-SAHO mechanism of injury (blunt vs. penetrating) revealed more intentional injury.


Lee PH, Marek J, Nálevka P. Sleep pattern(s) in the US and 16 European countries during the COVID-19 outbreak using crowdsourced smartphone data. Eur J Public Health 2020, published 10 November. Full-text:

When you sleep, your smartphone is taking notes and you may end up in a scientific publication. Here Paul Lee and colleagues utilized a large crowdsourced database (Sleep as Android) and analyzed the (your?) sleep behavior of 25,217 users with 1,352,513 sleep records between 1st January and 29th April 2020 in 16 European countries (Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Czech, Sweden, Austria, Poland, and Switzerland) and in the US. The unsurprising result: during lockdown, people delayed their bedtime and slept longer than usual.




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