Top 10: October 13

Home | Daily Science: TOP 10 | TOP 10 BOOK (PDF)

By Christian Hoffmann &
Bernd S. Kamps


This version will undergo additional copyediting, typesetting and review before it is published in its final form, but we are providing the text to give it early visibility.

13 October


Soper GA. The lessons of the pandemic. Science 1919, published 30 May. Full-text:

Do some time travel.


Riddell S, Goldie S, Hill A, et al. The effect of temperature on persistence of SARS-CoV-2 on common surfaces. Virol J 17, 145 (2020). Full-text:

It might seem that SARS-CoV-2 could remain infectious for longer time periods than generally considered until recently. Shane Riddell et al. measured the survival rates of infectious SARS-CoV-2 on several common surface types. They incubated the inoculated surfaces at 20 °C, 30 °C and 40 °C and sampled at various time points. The authors report isolation of viable virus for up to 28 days at 20 °C from common surfaces such as glass, stainless steel and both paper and polymer banknotes. A temperature of 40 °C, however, didn’t seem to suit the virus: it survived less than 24 h.

Note of the Editor: After more than 6 months living in the new SARS-CoV-2 world, this study might not change my behavior.



The European Union (EU) has agreed today on a traffic light system for travel amid the second COVID-19 wave. The member states will share the latest epidemiological data with the European Centre for Disease Control which will publish a map of Europe (also including data from the Schengen Associated States), updated weekly, in a variety of colours depending on the risk in a given region. There will be no restrictions if you are travelling from a “green” region. When travelling from an “orange” or a “red” region, national governments may ask you to get tested or undergo quarantine. Governments will give clear and timely information before they introduce such measures. Find more information at



Andronico A, Kiem CT, Paireaux J, et al. Evaluating the impact of curfews and other measures on SARS-CoV-2 transmission in French Guiana. medRxiv 2020, posted 12 October. Full-text:

Might curfews be a less costly alternative, both economically and socially, to complete lockdowns? In French Guiana, an overseas départment, a combination of curfews and targeted lockdowns in June and July 2020 was sufficient to avoid saturation of hospitals. On weekdays, residents were first ordered to stay at home 11 p.m., then at 9 p.m., later again at 7 p.m., and finally at 5 p.m. On weekends, everyone had to stay at home from 1 p.m. on Saturday (Andronico 2020). Whether curfews can be successfully adapted to other areas than French Guaiana, is not known. French Guaiana is a young territory with a median age is 25 years and the risk of hospitalisation following infection was only 30% that of France. About 20% of the population had been infected with SARS-CoV- by July 2020 (Andronico 2020). Be prepared, though, to see some curfew orders over the coming six months.



Tillett RL, Sevinsky JR, Hartley PD, et al. Genomic evidence for reinfection with SARS-CoV-2: a case study. Lancet Infect Dis 2020, published 12 October. Full-text:

Mark Pandori, Richard Tillett and colleagues report a 25-year patient who had two positive SARS-CoV-2 tests, the first on April 18, 2020, and the second on June 5, 2020, separated by two negative tests done during follow-up in May, 2020. Their analysis indicates that the patient was infected by SARS-CoV-2 on two separate occasions by a genetically distinct virus. Intriguingly, the second infection was symptomatically more severe than the first. The authors recommend that all individuals, whether previously diagnosed with COVID-19 or not, should take identical precautions to avoid infection with SARS-CoV-2. We cross our fingers that this case is the exception rather than the rule.


Posten D, Weisblum Y, Wise H, et al. Absence of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing activity in pre-pandemic sera from individuals with recent seasonal coronavirus infection. medRxiv 2020, published 11 October. Full-text:

Bad news from Rockefeller University. Paul Bieniasz, Daniel Poston and colleagues measured neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2 in pre-pandemic sera from patients with prior PCR-confirmed seasonal coronavirus infection. While neutralizing activity against seasonal coronaviruses was detected in nearly all sera, cross-reactive neutralizing activity against SARS-CoV-2 was undetectable. The authors conclude that while it is possible that there are rare instances of individuals possessing antibodies from prior seasonal HCoV infection may be able to also target SARS-CoV-2 S, their data would argue against a broad role for pre-existing protective humoral immunity against SARS-CoV-2. These findings have not yet been peer reviewed.



Dong Y, Dai T, Wei Y, et al. A systematic review of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates. Sig Transduct Target Ther 5, 237 (2020). Full-text:

The 11-page review for your next weekend. The authors provide an overview of the experimental and clinical data obtained from recent SARS-CoV-2 vaccines trials, and highlight certain potential safety issues that require consideration when developing vaccines. Learn more about antigen design, important and unimportant epitopes, structure design, suitable delivery system and adjuvants.


Severe COVID

de Nooijer AH, Grondman I, Janssen NAF, et al. Complement activation in the disease course of COVID-19 and its effects on clinical outcomes. J Infect Dis 2020, published 10 October. Full-text:

In this prospective, longitudinal, single center study, Leo Joosten, Aline de Nooijer and colleagues analyzed plasma concentrations of complement factors C3a, C3c, and terminal complement complex (TCC) for 197 patients with confirmed COVID-19. Complement factors C3a, C3c and TCC were significantly increased in plasma of COVID-19 patients compared to healthy controls (p<0.05). These complement factors were especially elevated in ICU patients during the entire disease course (p<0.005 for C3a and TCC).




If you read Spanish, read Galarraga Gortázar N. Manaos plantea incógnitas a la inmunidad de rebaño. El País 2020, pubished 12 October. Full-text:

Un repunte de los contagios en la capital de la Amazonia brasileña siembra dudas sobre un estudio que apuntaba que la ciudad era la primera del mundo en contener el virus sin hacer nada.