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.

ABSTRACT Background While Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines are highly effective, breakthrough infections are occurring. Booster vaccinations have recently received emergency use authorization (EUA) for certain populations but are restricted to homologous mRNA vaccines. We evaluated homologous and heterologous booster...

Highlights • Infection before Ad26CoV2.S vaccination boosts binding, neutralization and ADCC • Antibody boosting is not affected by time between infection and vaccination • Neutralization breadth for VOCs is determined by the sequence of the infecting virus • T cell...

Abstract Recently, we reported oligoadenylate synthetase 1 (OAS1) contributed to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, by its enrichment in transcriptional networks expressed by microglia. However, the function of OAS1 within microglia was not known. Using genotyping from 1313 individuals with...

Abstract Introduction The infection-fatality rate (IFR) of COVID-19 has been carefully measured and analyzed in high-income countries, whereas there has been no systematic analysis of age-specific seroprevalence or IFR for developing countries. Indeed, it has been suggested that the death...

Abstract Background Pre-Delta, vaccination reduced transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from individuals infected despite vaccination, potentially via reducing viral loads. While vaccination still lowers the risk of infection, similar viral loads in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals infected with Delta question how much...

Abstract During the process of open peer review on MedRxiv we quickly received a number of messages from reviewers concerned that there was a problem with our reported incidence of myocarditis post mRNA vaccination. Our reported incidence appeared vastly inflated...

Abstract BACKGROUND At interim analysis in a phase 3, observer-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial, the mRNA-1273 vaccine showed 94.1% efficacy in preventing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). After emergency use of the vaccine was authorized, the protocol was amended to include an...

Abstract BACKGROUND BNT162b2 is a lipid nanoparticle–formulated, nucleoside-modified RNA vaccine encoding a prefusion-stabilized, membrane-anchored severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) full-length spike protein. BNT162b2 is highly efficacious against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and is currently approved, conditionally approved, or...

Our take — This was a very large and well-designed cluster-randomized controlled trial of a multi-pronged intervention program to encourage mask-wearing in rural and peri-urban Bangladesh from November 2020 to April 2021; it was available as a preprint and is...

COVID-19, not vaccination, presents biggest blood clot risks: study
27th August 2021, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

Researchers from the University of Oxford have today announced the results of a study into thrombocytopenia (a condition with low platelet counts) and thromboembolic events (blood clots) following vaccination for COVID-19, some of the same events which have led to...

SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest have been associated with increased transmissibility, neutralization resistance and disease severity. Ongoing SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance world-wide has improved our ability to rapidly identify such variants. Here we report the identification of a potential variant of interest...

Background Reports of waning vaccine-induced immunity against COVID-19 have begun to surface. With that, the comparable long-term protection conferred by previous infection with SARS-CoV-2 remains unclear. Methods We conducted a retrospective observational study comparing three groups: (1)SARS-CoV-2-naïve individuals who received...

Adults who have been fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 can carry the same viral load of the delta variant as those who are unvaccinated, a preliminary analysis of UK data suggests.1 The latest results from the UK’s national covid-19 infection survey...

The animal origin of SARS-CoV-2
17th August 2021, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

Although first detected in December 2019, COVID-19 was inferred to be present in Hubei province, China, for about a month before (1). Where did this new human disease come from? To understand the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is...

Has COVID taught us anything about pandemic preparedness?
13th August 2021, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

As nations struggle to control the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists warn that deadly outbreaks of other viruses are inevitable. History is clear on this: more than six distinct influenza pandemics and epidemics have struck in just over a century. Ebola viruses...

Abstract Objectives Highly effective vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) have been developed but variants of concerns (VOCs) with mutations in the spike protein are worrisome, especially B.1.617.2 (Delta) which has rapidly spread across the world. We...

Abstract: Knowing the age-specific rates at which individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 develop severe and critical disease is essential for designing public policy, for epidemic modeling, and for individual risk evaluation. In this study, we present the first estimates of these...

COVID-19 associated with long-term cognitive dysfunction
29th July 2021, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

Much has been learned about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the novel coronavirus, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, questions remain about the long-term impact of the virus on our bodies and brains. New research reported at the...

This study was performed to investigate published literature about the association between measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and COVID-19. This is a systematic review in which the databases of Chocrane, Pubmed, Scopus, Web of Science as well as reliable...

Obesity is a major risk factor for adverse outcomes after infection with SARS-CoV-2. We aimed to examine this association, including interactions with demographic and behavioural characteristics, type 2 diabetes, and other health conditions. Methods In this prospective, community-based, cohort study,...

Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection in the community. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: The UK population-representative longitudinal COVID-19 Infection Survey. Participants: 373,402 participants aged ≥16 years contributing 1,610,562 RT-PCR results from nose and...

The SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines have shown remarkable clinical efficacy, but questions remain about the nature and kinetics of T cell priming. We performed longitudinal antigen-specific T cell analyses in healthy individuals following mRNA vaccination. Vaccination induced rapid near-maximal antigen-specific CD4+...

Zoonotically transmitted coronaviruses were responsible for three disease outbreaks since 2002, with the “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2” (SARS-CoV-2) causing the dramatic “Coronavirus Disease-2019” (CoViD-19) pandemic, which affected public health, economy, and society on a global scale. The impacts of...

The D614G mutation in the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 alters the fitness of the virus, making it the dominant form in the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we demonstrated by cryo-electron microscopy that the D614G mutation does not significantly perturb the structure...

How COVID-19 Affects the Brain
26th March 2021, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

COVID-19 has resulted in more than 120 million cases and 2.6 million deaths to date. Respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms are accompanied by short- and long-term neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPs) and long-term brain sequelae. Some patients present with anosmia, cognitive and attention...

PREPRINT: Preliminary Evidence on Long COVID in children
23rd March 2021, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

There is increasing evidence that adult patients diagnosed with acute COVID-19 suffer from Long COVID initially described in Italy. To date, data on Long COVID in children are lacking. We assessed persistent symptoms in pediatric patients previously diagnosed with COVID-19....

Insights into the multi-organ effects of COVID-19
23rd March 2021, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

Researchers at Murdoch University’s Australian National Phenome Centre (ANPC) have identified how chemical pathways in our bodies are uniquely affected by COVID-19, giving insights into how to study an individual’s response to the disease and the long-term health implications following...

Sexual Minorities Have Greater COVID-19 Risk Factors
23rd March 2021, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

Gay, lesbian, or bisexual adults have higher rates than heterosexual people of health conditions that increase the risk of developing severe COVID-19, according to national survey data. Currently, US COVID-19 surveillance systems don’t collect data on patients’ sexual orientation or...

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...

Retracted coronavirus (COVID-19) papers
8th June 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

We’ve been tracking retractions of papers about COVID-19 as part of our database. Here’s a running list, which will be updated as needed. (For some context on these figures, see this post, our letter in Accountability in Research and the...

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...

Cochrane COVID-19 resources
27th March 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

Developed in conjunction with the Cochrane Community and based on World Health Organization interim guidance, these Special Collections assemble Cochrane Reviews in key topic areas relating to the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. These Special Collections are updated in response...

BMJ’s Coronavirus (covid-19) Hub
18th March 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

BMJ’s covid-19 hub supports health professionals and researchers with practical guidance, online CPD courses, as well as the latest news, comment, and research from BMJ. The content is free to access and updated daily.

Evidenceaid: COVID-19 evidence collection
16th March 2020, Curated by Mandi Smallhorne

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is leading to a rapidly expanding and evolving literature. Evidence Aid is preparing summaries of relevant research which are available below as soon as each is ready. In time we will have translations of the summaries...

COVID-19 is a non-segmented, positive sense RNA virus. COVID-19 is part of the family of coronaviruses. This contains: (i) Four coronaviruses which are widely distributed and usually cause the common cold (but can cause viral pneumonia in patients with comorbidities)....