Top COVID-19 Research: Timely, Curated and Vetted by Experts

From the Curator-in-Chief's Desk—Jan. 14, 2022

Lynn Enquist
Lynn Enquist, Ph.D., Curator-in-Chief
Omicron Appears Less Virulent

Omicron continues to fuel a rise in global COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Fortunately, COVID-19-associated deaths have plateaued. Early data suggest that Omicron infections are less virulent than previous variants. Released this week as a preprint, Lewnard, J., et al. analyzed over 50,000 patients with suspected Omicron infections and determined a ~50% decrease in hospitalization and a ~90% decrease in death for Omicron as compared to Delta infections. Davies, M., et al. also observed reduced severe COVID-19 cases in the Omicron-driven wave in South Africa. While Omicron infections appear less severe, many hospitals are nearing capacity. Public health measures such as masking, social distancing and hand washing are all important to reduce viral spread.

Vaccines Help Reduce Viral Transmission

Vaccines are another layer of protection against Omicron. Vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease and appear to help reduce viral transmission. In their preprint, Puhach, O., et al. noted lower infectious titers and faster viral clearance in vaccinated individuals’ samples, indicating that vaccination could reduce transmission risk. Published in Nature Microbiology, Servellita, V., et al. also found significantly decreased viral loads in asymptomatic infections of vaccinated vs unvaccinated individuals, but comparable viral loads between vaccinated and unvaccinated symptomatic infections. The authors highlighted that symptomatic breakthrough infections may be "efficient" in viral transmission and urged continued mask wearing of both the vaccinated and unvaccinated. To understand SARS-CoV-2 transmission dynamics, Oswin, H, et al. monitored the stability of aerosolized viral droplets over time in a preprint. The authors reported a "rapid decay in infectivity" with the majority of SARS-CoV-2 inactivated within 10 minutes of aerosolization. However, more data are needed to understand fully the viral transmission dynamics under different conditions and of emerging variants.

Global Vaccine Equity Needed

Almost 9 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, with over 50% of the global population receiving at least 1 dose of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. However, vaccine distribution and access has been inequitable, with less than 10% of individuals in low-income countries having received at least a single vaccine dose. As we embark on a new year, fostering vaccine equity will be a critical component to managing the pandemic.

Lynn Enquist, Ph.D.
COVID-19 Research Registry Curator-in-Chief

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How is the genome of SARS-CoV-2 evolving? What mechanism does the coronavirus use to target human cells? How does the immune system react to SARS-CoV-2?



Will serology provide the ultimate answer? Does the existence of the antibody equal protection due to antibody neutralization? How often should patients be tested?


What are the results of the newest treatment? What drugs are in the pipeline? What are the latest outcomes from clinical trials?



What are the different kinds of vaccines? Do coronaviruses evolve to escape vaccines? What have we learned from work with Ebola virus and SARS vaccines development?


How does a pandemic start? How long will this pandemic last: can data models give us some hints? COVID-19 affects people differently depending on their age, how does this affect transmission? How does social distancing influence transmission rates?



Scientifically speaking, what is a coronavirus? What are the similarities and differences in structure and activities of SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2? What is the PK/PD of Remdesivir?

Biweekly Commentary Letter

Dec. 17, 2021

By Vito Martella, DVM, Ph.D., professor of veterinary medicine, University Aldo Moro of Bari, Italy. Martella is a curator of the registry.
"Multiple spillovers and onward transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in free-living and captive white-tailed deer" by Kuchipudi, S., et al. published on bioRxiv on Nov. 6, 2021.
View the Commentary on ASM Connect View Past Commentaries

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