Top 10: November 5

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Pozzer A, Dominici F, Haines A, et al. Regional and global contributions of air pollution to risk of death from COVID-19. Cardiovasc Res 2020, published 26 October. Full-text:

Air pollution might be an important cofactor increasing the risk of mortality from COVID-19. Jos Lelieveld, Andrea Pozzer and colleagues characterized global exposure to fine particulates based on satellite data and estimate that particulate air pollution contributed around 15% to COVID-19 mortality worldwide (East Asia, 27%; Europe, 19%; North America, 17%).



Zhang, Q., Chen, C.Z., Swaroop, M. et al. Heparan sulfate assists SARS-CoV-2 in cell entry and can be targeted by approved drugs in vitro. Cell Discov 6, 80 (2020).

The authors report that entry of SARS-CoV and CoV-2 requires the cell surface heparan sulfate (HS) as an assisting cofactor and that ablation of genes involved in HS biosynthesis or incubating cells with a HS mimetic inhibit Spike-mediated viral entry. After screening of approved drugs they identified various inhibitors: Mitoxantrone, Sunitinib and 7-benzylidenenaltrexone (BNTX).


Murugan NA, Kumar S, Jeyakanthan J, et al. Searching for target-specific and multi-targeting organics for Covid-19 in the Drugbank database with a double scoring approach. Sci Rep 10, 19125 (2020).

Next study on the use of computational screening approaches to identify lead drug-like compounds for Covid-19. The harvest (selection): Baloxavir marboxil, Phthalocyanine, Tadalafil, Lonafarnib, Nilotinib, Dihydroergotamine.



Tufekci Z. We Need to Talk About Ventilation. The Atlantic 2020, published 30 July. Full-text:

Published more than three months ago but still instructive.


Harvey AP, Fuhrmeister ER, Cantrell M, et al. Longitudinal monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 RNA on high-touch surfaces in a community setting. medRxiv 2020, posted 1 November. Full-text:

The estimated risk of infection from touching a contaminated surface was less than 5 in 10,000 in a study by Amy Pickering, Abigail Harvey and colleagues. From April to June 2020, they repeatedly sampled 33 surfaces in public places like liquor and grocery stores, banks, gas stations, laundromats, restaurants and on metro doors and crosswalk buttons. Twenty-nine of 348 (8.3 %) surface samples were positive for SARS-CoV-2. The authors suggest that fomites might play only a minimal role in SARS-CoV-2 community transmission.

A second, not less important point: The weekly percentage of positive samples in one postal district peaked about 7 days before a spike in new SARS-CoV-2 cases. Surveillance on high-touch surfaces might therefore provide precious early warning clues.



Weisberg SP, Connors TJ, Zhu Y, et al. Distinct antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 in children and adults across the COVID-19 clinical spectrum. Nat Immunol (2020). Full-text:

Children and adults have distinct immune responses after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Here, Donna Farber, Stuart Weisberg and colleagues present data from two adult (n=32) and two pediatric cohorts (n=47). They show that adult COVID-19 cohorts had anti-spike (S) IgG, IgM and IgA antibodies, as well as anti-nucleocapsid (N) IgG antibody, while children with and without MIS-C had reduced breadth of anti-SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies, predominantly generating IgG antibodies specific for the S protein but not the N protein. The authors present possible explanations for these findings.


Tandon R, Mitra D, Sharma P. Effective screening of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies in patient serum using lentivirus particles pseudotyped with SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein. Sci Rep 10, 19076 (2020). Full-text:

Pseuodotyped particles have significant importance and use in virology as tools for studying the biology of highly pathogenic viruses in a lower biosafety environment. Here, Ritesh Tandon et al. report a third generation lentiviral pseudotyping system for SARS-CoV-2 (pLV-S) and its efficacy in detecting neutralizing antibody titers in convalescent patient serum. The authors conclude that these pseudoparticles could be utilized for screening of potential vaccine candidates as they represent SARS-CoV-2 Spike glycoprotein on their surface in its native confirmation.



Tsai A, Diaware O, Nahass RG, et al. Impact of tocilizumab administration on mortality in severe COVID-19. Sci Rep 10, 19131 (2020). Full-text:

Another study that does not support the use of tocilizumab for the management of cytokine storm in patients with COVID-19. In this single-center propensity-score matched cohort study, 132 patients were included in the matched dataset (tocilizumab = 66; no tocilizumab = 66). Approximately 73% of the patients were male. Hypertension (55%), diabetes mellitus (31%), and chronic pulmonary disease (15%) were the most common comorbidities present. There were 18 deaths (27.3%) in the tocilizumab group and 18 deaths (27.3%) in the no tocilizumab group.


Collateral Effects

Huh K, Jung J, Hong J, et al. Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions on the incidence of respiratory infections during the COVID-19 outbreak in Korea: a nationwide surveillance study. Clin Infect Dis 2020, published 5 November. Full-text:

Non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) implemented to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 have led to the decline in the incidences of highly transmissible respiratory infections. This is the result of a study by Ji-Man Kang, Kyungmin Huh and colleagues from the Children’s Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul. Comparing the period February–July 2020 to the previous 4 years, the authors found that the incidences of chickenpox and mumps were significantly lower than in the prediction model (chickenpox: 36%, mumps: 63%).



If you read Spanish, read Limón R. Ni ingerir vitamina D como suplemento ni tomar el sol son eficaces frente al coronavirus. El País, published 5 November. Full-text:

Un ensayo clínico identifica un compuesto que activa el sistema inmunitario y mitiga la gravedad de la covid. Attention: small numbers!



If you read French, read Gozlan M. Covid-19 : ce que l’on sait sur les enfants et adolescents et ce qu’il reste à apprendre. Le Monde 2020, published 2 November. Full-text :

Depuis le début de l’épidémie de Covid-19, les données attestent que les enfants développent rarement une forme sévère de Covid-19. En effet, les enfants infectés présentent le plus souvent des symptômes légers.

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By Christian Hoffmann &
Bernd S. Kamps