Top 10: September 11

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By Christian Hoffmann &
Bernd S. Kamps

11 September

Paper of the Day

Worobey M, Pekar J, Larsen BB, et al. The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in Europe and North America. Science 2020, published 10 September. Full-text:

The first early intervention successfully prevented early introductions of the virus into Germany and the US from taking hold. But subsequent introductions founded sustained European and North America transmission networks during the first two months of 2020: first in Italy around the end of January, then in Washington State around the beginning of February, and followed by New York City later that month. Here, Philippe Lemey, Michael Worobey delineate when widespread community transmission was first established on both continents (see Figure 6) and clarify the period before SARS-CoV-2 establishment when contact tracing and isolation might have been most effective. Delaying COVID-19 outbreaks by even a few weeks in the US and Europe (the public health response to the WA1 case in Washington State, and a particularly impressive response in Germany to an early outbreak), bought crucial time for their own cities, as well as other countries and cities, to prepare for the virus when it finally did arrive. Don’t miss this paper.



Finkel Y, Mizrahi O, Nachshon A, et al. The coding capacity of SARS-CoV-2. Nature 2020, published 9 September. Full-text:

Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, do we know everything about SARS-CoV-2? Maybe not, say Noam Stern-Ginossar, Yaara Finkel and colleagues and delineate a new highly complex landscape of translation products, including translation of 23 novel viral ORFs and revealed the relative production of canonical viral proteins. The functional significance and antigenic potential of these ORFs will soon be explored.


Unchwaniwala N, Ahlquist P. Coronavirus dons a new crown. Science 2020, published 11 September. Full-text:

Nuruddin Unchwaniwala and Paul Ahlquist discuss the paper by Montserrat Bárcena, Georg Wolff et al. [Wolff G, Limpens RWAL, Zevenhoven-Dobbe JC, et al. A molecular pore spans the double membrane of the coronavirus replication organelle. Science. 2020 Aug 6:eabd3629. PubMed: Full-text:] who tried to understand how progeny (+)RNA genomes are released from double-membrane vesicles.



Bedford T, Greninger AL, Roychoudhury P, et al. Cryptic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Washington state. Science 2020, published 10 September. Full-text:

Trevor Bedford et al. analyzed 453 SARS-CoV-2 genomes collected between 20 February and 15 March 2020 from infected patients in Washington State, USA. The result: most SARS-CoV-2 infections derived from a single introduction in late January or early February 2020 which subsequently spread locally before active community surveillance was implemented. These results, again, highlight the critical need for widespread surveillance for community transmission of SARS-CoV-2.



Clipman SJ, Wesolowski AP, Gibson DG, et al. Rapid real-time tracking of non-pharmaceutical interventions and their association with SARS-CoV-2 positivity: The COVID-19 Pandemic Pulse Study. Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Sep 2. PubMed: Full-text:

Is the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) on SARS-CoV-2 positivity quantifiable? That’s what tried Sunil Solomon, Steven Clipman and colleagues tried to understand. They surveyed a random sample of more than 1,000 people to examine associations between NPI adoption and self-reported SARS-CoV-2 positivity. SARS-CoV-2 infection was negatively associated with strict social distancing (adjusted Odd Ratio for outdoor social distancing [aOR]: 0.10) and positively associated with transport use (aOR for ≥7 times vs. never: 4.29) and visiting a place of worship (aOR for ≥3 times vs. never: 16.0).



Meizlish ML, Pine AB, Bishai JD. A neutrophil activation signature predicts critical illness and mortality in COVID-19. medRxiv 2020, posted 2 September. Full-text:

Attention: this article has not yet been peer reviewed! In this pre-published article, Hyung Chun, Alfred Lee, Matthew Meizlish and colleagues carried out proteomic profiling of plasma and analyzed clinical data from over 3,300 patients. Their findings would suggest that increased circulating levels of neutrophil activators (G-CSF, IL-8) and neutrophil effectors (RETN, LCN2, HGF, and MMP8) might identify non-critically ill patients who are at risk of becoming critically ill. To be reviewed.


Severe COVID

Shah GL, DeWolf S, Lee YJ, et al. Favorable outcomes of COVID-19 in recipients of hematopoietic cell transplantation. J Clin Invest. 2020 Sep 8:141777. PubMed: Full-text:

Can you safely perform hematopoietic cell transplantation in patients with COVID-19? In this retrospective study, Miguel-Angel Perales, Gunjan Shah and colleagues identified 77 SARS-CoV-2 + cellular therapy recipients (Allo = 35, Auto = 37, CAR-T = 5; median time from cellular therapy 782 days. Without active malignancy, overall clinical outcome was favorable. Survival at 30 days was 78%. In the Discussion, you’ll find information about the lymphocyte populations that are key for the anti-viral response and immune reconstitution.



Editorial. Curing COVID-19. Lancet Infect Dis 2020, published 10 September. Full-text:

In the future, we will have effective therapies but for now we basically have just dexamethasone and hydrocortisone.



Tan-Torres Edejer T, Hanssen O, Mirelman A, et al. Projected health-care resource needs for an effective response to COVID-19 in 73 low-income and middle-income countries: a modelling study. Lancet Global Health 2020, published 9 September. Full-text:

What are the costs of pandemic preparedness if current COVID-19 transmission levels are maintained or scenarios where transmission is increased or decreased by 50%? Here Tessa Tan-Torres Edejer et al. project the number of COVID-19 cases for 73 low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) for each scenario for both 4 and 12-week timeframes. The cost estimate varies between US$33 and $US52. The authors also show which pillars of the strategic preparedness and response drive the costs: clinical case management (54%), maintaining essential services (21%), rapid response and case investigation (14%), and infection prevention and control (9%).




If you read Spanish, read Hierro L. Cómo las multinacionales usan la covid-19 para vender comida basura. El País 2020, published 10 September. Full-text:

Mientras que pacientes con obesidad y enfermedades como diabetes, hipertensión y cáncer sufren más el virus SARS-CoV-2, los principales fabricantes mundiales de ultraprocesados, alcohol y bebidas azucaradas usan distintas tácticas y se aprovechan de la pandemia para intentar obtener ganancias. Una discusión completa de Lola Hierro.



Vincent F. Covid-19 : le défi des soignants face au mystère des symptômes persistants. Le Monde 2020, published 11 September. Full-text :

Les professionnels de santé sont confrontés à un afflux de patients ayant contracté le nouveau coronavirus lors de la première vague, et qui ont des symptômes persistants malgré des examens cliniques normaux.


Favier S. Covid-19 : aux Etats-Unis, des scientifiques s’injectent leur propre vaccin sans essai clinique préalable. Le Monde 2020, published 11 September. Full-text :

Au cas où vous auriez eu encore des doutes…



If you read German, read Wie gut sind wir vorbereitet? Die Zeit 2020, published 11 September. Full-text:

Die kalte Jahreszeit kommt. Das Virus bleibt. Und während Deutschland auf die Entwicklung der Infektionszahlen starrt, stellt sich die Frage danach, wie gut Krankenhäuser, Gesundheitsämter und Schulen gerüstet sind. | Von Andreas Sentker, Ingo Malcher, Marcus Rohwetter, Edda Grabar, Linda Fischer, Viola Kiel, Jeannette Otto, Christian Heinrich, Katharina Menne, Jens Tönnesmann and Mariam Lau.