Top 10: October 15

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

By Christian Hoffmann &
Bernd S. Kamps

15 October


Oltermann P. Berlin gives middle finger to anti-maskers in tourism agency ad. The Guardian 2020, published 14 October. Full-text:

An ad placed in local papers by the German capital’s senate as part of a public information campaign shows an elderly woman presenting her outstretched middle finger to the camera, next to the words: “A finger-wag for all those without a mask: we stick to corona rules.” John F. Kennedy would add: “Ich bin ein Berliner.

“A finger wag for all those without a mask. We respect the corona rules.” Picture: Berlin Senate.



Alwan NA, Burgess RA, Ashworth S, et al. Scientific consensus on the COVID-19 pandemic: we need to act now. Lancet 2020, published 15 October. Full-text:

Herd immunity against SARS-CoV-2? Allowing large uncontrolled outbreaks in the low-risk population while protecting the vulnerable? Developing population immunity in the low-risk population, which will eventually protect the vulnerable? The authors don’t beat about the bush: “Dangerous fallacy unsupported by scientific evidence.” Their conclusion: “Japan, Vietnam, and New Zealand, to name a few countries, have shown that robust public health responses can control transmission, allowing life to return to near-normal, and there are many such success stories. The evidence is very clear: controlling community spread of COVID-19 is the best way to protect our societies and economies until safe and effective vaccines and therapeutics arrive within the coming months. We cannot afford distractions that undermine an effective response; it is essential that we act urgently based on the evidence.”


Poirier C, Luo W, Majumder MS, et al. The role of environmental factors on transmission rates of the COVID-19 outbreak: an initial assessment in two spatial scales. Sci Rep 10, 17002 (2020). Full-text:

Bad news for CCOs (‘Coronavirus Climate Optimists’): changes in weather (i.e., increase of temperature and humidity as spring and summer months arrive in the Northern Hemisphere) may not necessarily lead to declines in case counts without the implementation of drastic public health interventions. Only absolute humidity might play a role.



Gordon DE, Hiatt J, Bouhaddou M, et al. (Total: 200 authors) Comparative host-coronavirus protein interaction networks reveal pan-viral disease mechanisms. Science 2020, published 15 October. Full-text:

Nevan Krogan, David Gordon and colleagues – a group of 200 researchers – uncovered molecular processes used by coronaviruses MERS, SARS-CoV1 and SARS-CoV2 to manipulate host cells. The researchers from six countries found 73 human proteins with which components of all three types of the virus enter into bonds and thus influence the survival of infected cells in culture. Host factors that functionally impinge on coronavirus proliferation include Tom70, a mitochondrial chaperone protein that interacts with both SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 Orf9b. The consortium also discovered cell surface molecules that are influenced by all three coronaviruses and that bind to already approved drugs, for example an antipsychotic and an anti-inflammatory drug.



Walsh EE, Frenck RW, Falsey AR, et al. Safety and Immunogenicity of Two RNA-Based Covid-19 Vaccine Candidates. N Engl J Med 2020, published 15 October. Full-text:

Safety and immunogenicity data from a phase 1 trial of RNA-based Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. In both younger (18 to 55 years of age) and older adults (65 to 85 years of age), the two vaccine candidates elicited similar dose-dependent SARS-CoV-2–neutralizing geometric mean titers, comparable or higher than the geometric mean titer of a panel of SARS-CoV-2 convalescent serum samples. The data presented here by Judith Absalon, Edward Walsh and colleagues include those that guided the companies’ decision to advance BNT162b2 at the 30-μg dose level to the phase 2–3, international trial to evaluate its safety and efficacy in participants 18 to 85 years of age.



Rubin EJ, Baden LR, Morrissey S. Vaccinology and Covid-19. Audio interview (32:26). N Engl J Med 2020; 383: e109. Access: 10.1056/NEJMe2031646

The editors discuss discuss the fundamental concepts behind candidate vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 and the status of ongoing clinical trials.



Yesterday evening, the French President Emmanuel Macron ordered a curfew for 20 million people for at least four weeks. At 9 p.m., everybody at home. This move was inspired by the results of a paper by 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: However, nobody knows if curfews can be successfully adapted to other areas than French Guaiana. 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-2 by July 2020 (Andronico 2020). Expect more countries to adopt curfews over the coming weeks and be prepared for curfews lasting considerably longer than one month. If you read French, read one or more of the following articles.


Marot L. En Guyane, un couvre-feu évolutif efficace contre la première vague de l’épidémie de Covid-19. Le Monde 2020, published 15 October. Full-text:

Instauré après le confinement, le couvre-feu a été renforcé avec l’augmentation du nombre de cas, puis allégé, évitant une asphyxie totale de l’économie locale.


Covid-19 en France : forte hausse du nombre de cas déclarés et des admissions en réanimation. Le Monde 2020, published 15 October. Full-text :

Les nouvelles admissions dans les services de réanimation des hôpitaux marquent une nette hausse depuis plusieurs jours : 171 patients lundi, 226 mardi, 193 mercredi et 219 jeudi, selon Santé publique France.


Couvre-feu, fêtes privées, télétravail… Ce qu’il faut retenir de l’intervention de Jean Castex et des ministres. Le Monde 2020, published 15 October. Full-text:

« A 21 heures, chacun devra être chez soi. (…) Sauf exception, tous les commerces, services et lieux recevant du public seront fermés », a notamment annoncé le premier ministre.


Durand AA, Parienté J, Audureau W, Aubert R. Covid-19: peut-on prendre le train ? Faut-il une attestation ? 24 questions sur le couvre-feu et l’état d’urgence sanitaire. Le Monde 2020, published 15 October. Full-text:

Le gouvernement a précisé, jeudi, les modalités pratiques des mesures exceptionnelles annoncées mercredi soir par le président Emmanuel Macron.


Szadkowski M, Leloup D. Couvre-feu, privations de liberté, surveillance de masse… Ce que George Orwell n’avait pas prévu. Le Monde 2020, published 15 October. Full-text:

Après les dernières annonces d’Emmanuel Macron sur le couvre-feu, plusieurs personnalités politiques ont à nouveau convoqué le roman « 1984 » de l’écrivain britannique. Parfois avec erreur.