Science

COVID-19: the changing science

In WFSJ Briefing—our collection of SARS-CoV2 science, ideas and analysis—we have published a link to a page of retractions of SARS-CoV2 science from the useful online resource Retraction Watch. Today, we publish a letter calling for the retraction of a much-shared paper on asymptomatic transmission.

It’s really worth keeping an eye on the status of the science as it evolves. We have never seen such a flood of science (both preprints and research that has been through the peer-review and editing process), and things are shifting and evolving in real time. It’s wonderful to see things moving so fast and to see clinicians and researchers talking to each other and throwing ideas around in the quest to find interdisciplinary answers and solutions.

But at the same time, for journalists, it’s a bit nerve-wracking. Something that looks like a truly juicy finding just begging for a headline can become an embarrassment tomorrow – one of those stories that make you wince when you are reminded of it.

All too often the haste to publish, to get the clicks, leads to irresponsible reporting. We hope that our readers will remember to report with caution and care, with qualifications and with thoughtful commentary that shares what could be useful info but makes clear that it may not be the be-all and end-all in the field.

Tread carefully, be thoughtful and remember the awesome responsibility you bear. As we say in South Africa, hamba kahle: go well.

Please let us know about any good articles you find or have written chasing down facts about fake news – or any particularly interesting research or analysis of science that you might like to share with science journalists across the world. Send links to covid19editor@wfsj-briefing.org – we’d like to share the best coverage and analysis with our readership.

This page is organised so that you can find information on different topics (from the drop-down COVID-19 menu at the top of the page), and then see that information separated into different types (see the tabs in the articles list, left).

If you would like to do a more advanced search of the content, start by putting a term in the search box. This will take you to our search page, which allows you to search by keyword, date, topic, type of information, and (where applicable) location.

We put up this site very quickly (it was eight days from the idea being originally mooted to the site going live) because we saw an urgent need and wanted to help. This means the site is far from perfect as it stands. Rest assured that we will be actively working to improve it.

… and, if you’d like to help:

  • If you cover this subject and would like to regularly contribute links to the site, or would like to contribute tips about best (and worst) practice in writing about this subject, contact: covid19editor@wfsj-briefing.org.
  • If you have a few links you’d like to contribute but do not want to do so on a regular basis, just send the links to: covid19@wfsj-briefing.org.
  • If you think the interface could be easier to use, we are missing out important areas of content, or would like to suggest other changes (or if you think there is another looming crisis we should create a briefing for), please contact: editorialdirector@wfsj-briefing.org.
  • Finally, if you have any day-to-day issues, notice mislabelled or bad material, or see any technical glitches, please contact: editorial@wfsj-briefing.org.

A study of 153 patients treated in UK hospitals during the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic describes a range of neurological and psychiatric complications that may be linked to the disease and is published today in The Lancet Psychiatry...

PREPRINT: How Many Lives Has Lockdown Saved in the UK?
25th June 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

We compare the trajectory of deaths (both in hospitals and care homes) on a daily basis in Sweden and England and Wales (which constitute 90 per cent of the UK population) from 11 March to 12 June 2020, the latest...

Post-viral fatigue and COVID-19: lessons from past epidemics
25th June 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

The COVID-19 pandemic, resulting from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has severely impacted the population worldwide with a great mortality rate. The current article reviews the literature on short- and long-term health consequences of prior epidemics and infections...

Most countries closed training facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. This may have negative consequences for peoples health and wellbeing. We investigated SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission and COVID-19 disease attributable to training facilities. Methods: we randomized members 18 to 64 years with...

Clinical manifestations of COVID-19 may range from asymptomatic to severe interstitial pneumonia with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and death. COVID-19 mortality rates vary greatly [1] and the most reliable assessment of mortality comes from patients admitted due to severe...

The use of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins is associated with a lower death rate and a lower incidence of mechanical ventilation in patients hospitalized with Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), researchers report June 24 in Cell Metabolism. The large-scale retrospective study...

The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has become a pandemic affecting health and wellbeing globally. In addition to the physical health,economic, and social implications, the psychological impacts of this pandemic are increasingly being reported in the scientific literature. This narrative...

In the background of the current COVID-19 pandemic, serological tests are being used to assess past infection and immunity against SARS-CoV-2. This knowledge is paramount to determine the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the post pandemic period. Several individuals belonging...

June 18, 2020 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 500 Fifth Street, NW NAS 340 Washington, DC 20001 USA Dear Editorial Board of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, We are writing with deep concerns about a...

The clinical features and immune responses of asymptomatic individuals infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have not been well described. We studied 37 asymptomatic individuals in the Wanzhou District who were diagnosed with RT–PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections but...

Transmission of COVID-19 from mother to baby during pregnancy is uncommon, and the rate of infection is no greater when the baby is born vaginally, breastfed or allowed contact with the mother, according to a new study. The research also...

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) typically causes febrile illness with respiratory symptoms (1,2), and many countries worldwide have been affected. Before characterizing COVID-19 as a pandemic in March 2020 (3), the World Health Organization advised countries to take measures to reduce spread...

Background. Wide variation between countries has been noted in per-capita mortality from the disease (COVID-19) caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Determinants of this variation are not fully understood. Methods. Potential predictors of per-capita coronavirus-related mortality in 198 countries were examined,...

The COVID-19 pandemic has obliged Governments all around the world to take confinement and social 13 distancing measures. The reduction of leisure and production activities on beaches and ports have 14 disappeared direct and indirect contamination such as plastics, hydrocarbon...

Recent studies show cigarette smokers are markedly under-represented among patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in over a dozen countries. It is unclear if this may be related to confounding factors such as age distribution, access to care, and inaccurate records. We...

Up to 45 percent of COVID-19 infections may be asymptomatic
12th June 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

An extraordinary percentage of people infected by the virus behind the ongoing deadly COVID-19 pandemic—up to 45 percent—are people who never show symptoms of the disease, according to the results of a Scripps Research analysis of public datasets on asymptomatic...

New-Onset Diabetes in Covid-19
12th June 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

There is a bidirectional relationship between Covid-19 and diabetes. On the one hand, diabetes is associated with an increased risk of severe Covid-19. On the other hand, new-onset diabetes and severe metabolic complications of preexisting diabetes, including diabetic ketoacidosis and...

COVID-19 threatens the entire nervous system
11th June 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

A new review of neurological symptoms of COVID-19 patients in current scientific literature reveals the disease poses a global threat to the entire nervous system, reports a Northwestern Medicine study published this week in Annals of Neurology. About half of...

A test developed by experts in Birmingham has offered evidence confirming COVID-19 to be the cause of a newly emerged multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, who have tested negative for the virus by the PCR test. This raises the possibility...

Hydroxychloroquine does not reduce the risk of dying or improve other outcomes in hospitalised patients treated for covid-19, preliminary results from the UK RECOVERY trial have shown. Announcing the results, Martin Landray, the study’s deputy chief investigator, said, “We have...

Many low- and middle-income countries have implemented control measures against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, it is not clear to what extent these measures explain the low numbers of recorded COVID-19 cases and deaths in Africa. One of the main...

Never before have we experienced social isolation on a massive scale as we have during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. A new paper published in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences explores the wide-ranging, negative consequences that social isolation has on...

Social distancing and isolation have been widely introduced to counter the COVID-19 pandemic. Adverse social, psychological and economic consequences of a complete or near-complete lockdown demand the development of more moderate contact-reduction policies. Adopting a social network approach, we evaluate...

Two days after issuing expressions of concern about controversial papers on Covid-19, The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine have retracted the articles because a number of the authors were not granted access to the underlying data. The...

Respiratory failure is a key feature of severe Covid-19 and a critical driver of mortality, but for reasons poorly defined affects less than 10% of SARS-CoV-2 infected patients. Methods. We included 1,980 patients with Covid-19 respiratory failure at seven centers...

An international team of scientists whose funding for research on bat coronaviruses was recently yanked by the U.S. government has published what it calls the most comprehensive analysis ever done of such viruses. In a preprint posted yesterday on bioRxiv,...

Unlike most countries, Korea did not implement a lockdown in its battle against COVID-19, instead successfully relying on testing and contact tracing. Only one region, Daegu-Gyeongbuk (DG), had a significant number of infections, traced to a religious sect. This allows...

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be among the most significant global health crises of several generations. The causative virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is almost certainly of zoonotic origin, with current evidence implicating a bat reservoir and,...

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emerged in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and has spread globally with sustained human-to-human transmission outside China.1,2 To control the spread of COVID-19 and isolate patients as early as possible, the Chinese government requested that close...

Rheumatologists at the University of Alberta are flagging similarities between the deaths of some COVID-19 patients and those with rheumatic illnesses, and are testing proven rheumatic treatments to see whether they help against the pandemic virus. A substantial proportion of...

WFSJ Briefing Guidelines – COVID-19
26th May 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

The content for WFSJ Briefing is intended to provide: Basic information for those (such as generalist reporters) who have yet to familiarise themselves with SARS-CoV2 (origins, transmission, definitions and more) Science which supports and enhances understanding of the virus and...

COVID-19 is causing major turmoil around the globe, and the clinical trial industry is likely to face unprecedented challenges to health and business sectors. In an effort to find a suitable treatment and prevention options for COVID-19, several COVID-19 clinical...

On 9 March, a patient who had recently traveled to Europe and had symptoms of COVID-19 visited the emergency department of St. Augustine’s, a private hospital in Durban, South Africa. Eight weeks later, 39 patients and 80 staff linked to...

When the current pandemic comes to an end, as it eventually will, many people will have lived through all kinds of stresses and losses, including the loss of friends and loved ones due to the novel coronavirus, the loss of...

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak has become a severe public health issue. The novelty of the virus prompts a search for understanding of how ecological factors affect the transmission and survival of the virus. Several studies have robustly identified...

PREPRINT: Children Have Lower SARS-CoV-2 Viral Loads Than Adults
23rd May 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

The question of whether children are less likely to pass on SARS-CoV-2 is important for planning society’s response to the pandemic. A document available on the Charité hospital website has not been formally published but is frequently referred to as...

The COVID-19 pandemic brings to light the reality of the Brazilian health system. The underreporting of COVID-19 deaths in the state of Minas Gerais (MG), where is concentrated the second largest population of the country, reveals government unpreparedness, as there...

The world continues to face an ongoing viral pandemic that presents a serious threat to human health. The virus underlying the COVID-19 disease, SARS-CoV-2, has caused over 3.2 million confirmed cases and 220,000 deaths between January and April 2020. Although...

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic passes the peak infection rate in some states and counties a phased re-opening with changes of stay-at-home restrictions and social distancing recommendations may lead to an increase of non-essential work, social activities and gathering, especially...

Immune dysregulation and cytokine release syndrome have emerged as pathological hallmarks of severe Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), leading to the evaluation of cytokine antagonists as therapeutic agents. A number of immune-directed therapies being considered for COVID-19 patients are already in...

Hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, often in combination with a second-generation macrolide, are being widely used for treatment of COVID-19, despite no conclusive evidence of their benefit. Although generally safe when used for approved indications such as autoimmune disease or malaria, the...

Placentas from COVID-19-positive pregnant women show injury
22nd May 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

The placentas from 16 women who tested positive for COVID-19 while pregnant showed evidence of injury, according to pathological exams completed directly following birth, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study. The type of injury seen in the placentas shows abnormal...

Could COVID‐19 have an impact on male fertility?
21st May 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

The pandemic caused by Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) has led to several hypotheses of functional alteration of different organs. The direct influence of this virus on the male urogenital organs is still to be evaluated. However some...

Summary: SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, enters human cells by attaching to ACE2 and utilizing TMPRSS2. Drugs that block ACE2 or inhibit the enzyme could help treat the coronavirus, but only during early infection. As the infection progresses, SARS-CoV-2...

Team finds effective SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies
18th May 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

A joint research team led by Sunney Xie, Director of Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics (ICG) at Peking University (PKU) has successfully identified multiple highly potent neutralizing antibodies against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus of the respiratory...

Background A possible association between COVID-19 infection and thrombosis, either as a direct consequence of the virus or as a complication of inflammation, is emerging in the literature. Data on the incidence of venous thromboembolism (VTE) are extremely limited. Methods We describe...

The factors mediating fatal SARS-CoV-2 infections are poorly understood. Here, we show that cigarette smoke causes a dose-dependent upregulation of Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2), the SARS-CoV-2 receptor, in rodent and human lungs. Using single-cell sequencing data, we demonstrate that...

A key impact measure of COVID-19 pandemic is the case fatality rate (CFR), but estimating it during an epidemic is challenging as the true number of cases may remain elusive. Objective: To estimate the CFR applying a delay-adjusted method across...

As COVID-19 is rapidly spreading across the globe, short-term modeling forecasts provide time-critical information for decisions on containment and mitigation strategies. A major challenge for short-term forecasts is the assessment of key epidemiological parameters and how they change when first...