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Journal: Nature medicine


We identified seasonal human coronaviruses, influenza viruses and rhinoviruses in exhaled breath and coughs of children and adults with acute respiratory illness. Surgical face masks significantly reduced detection of influenza virus RNA in respiratory droplets and coronavirus RNA in aerosols, with a trend toward reduced detection of coronavirus RNA in respiratory droplets. Our results indicate that surgical face masks could prevent transmission of human coronaviruses and influenza viruses from symptomatic individuals.


The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)-CoV underscores the threat of cross-species transmission events leading to outbreaks in humans. Here we examine the disease potential of a SARS-like virus, SHC014-CoV, which is currently circulating in Chinese horseshoe bat populations. Using the SARS-CoV reverse genetics system, we generated and characterized a chimeric virus expressing the spike of bat coronavirus SHC014 in a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV backbone. The results indicate that group 2b viruses encoding the SHC014 spike in a wild-type backbone can efficiently use multiple orthologs of the SARS receptor human angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2), replicate efficiently in primary human airway cells and achieve in vitro titers equivalent to epidemic strains of SARS-CoV. Additionally, in vivo experiments demonstrate replication of the chimeric virus in mouse lung with notable pathogenesis. Evaluation of available SARS-based immune-therapeutic and prophylactic modalities revealed poor efficacy; both monoclonal antibody and vaccine approaches failed to neutralize and protect from infection with CoVs using the novel spike protein. On the basis of these findings, we synthetically re-derived an infectious full-length SHC014 recombinant virus and demonstrate robust viral replication both in vitro and in vivo. Our work suggests a potential risk of SARS-CoV re-emergence from viruses currently circulating in bat populations.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Evolution, Microbiology, Severe acute respiratory syndrome, Virology


We report temporal patterns of viral shedding in 94 patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and modeled COVID-19 infectiousness profiles from a separate sample of 77 infector-infectee transmission pairs. We observed the highest viral load in throat swabs at the time of symptom onset, and inferred that infectiousness peaked on or before symptom onset. We estimated that 44% (95% confidence interval, 25-69%) of secondary cases were infected during the index cases' presymptomatic stage, in settings with substantial household clustering, active case finding and quarantine outside the home. Disease control measures should be adjusted to account for probable substantial presymptomatic transmission.


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 without any relevant clinical symptoms in the preceding 14 d and during hospitalization. Asymptomatic individuals were admitted to the government-designated Wanzhou People’s Hospital for centralized isolation in accordance with policy1. The median duration of viral shedding in the asymptomatic group was 19 d (interquartile range (IQR), 15-26 d). The asymptomatic group had a significantly longer duration of viral shedding than the symptomatic group (log-rank P = 0.028). The virus-specific IgG levels in the asymptomatic group (median S/CO, 3.4; IQR, 1.6-10.7) were significantly lower (P = 0.005) relative to the symptomatic group (median S/CO, 20.5; IQR, 5.8-38.2) in the acute phase. Of asymptomatic individuals, 93.3% (28/30) and 81.1% (30/37) had reduction in IgG and neutralizing antibody levels, respectively, during the early convalescent phase, as compared to 96.8% (30/31) and 62.2% (23/37) of symptomatic patients. Forty percent of asymptomatic individuals became seronegative and 12.9% of the symptomatic group became negative for IgG in the early convalescent phase. In addition, asymptomatic individuals exhibited lower levels of 18 pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. These data suggest that asymptomatic individuals had a weaker immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The reduction in IgG and neutralizing antibody levels in the early convalescent phase might have implications for immunity strategy and serological surveys.


Temperatures that deviate from the long-term local norm affect human health, and are projected to become more frequent as the global climate changes1. There are limited data on how such anomalies affect deaths from injuries. In the present study, we used data on mortality and temperature over 38 years (1980-2017) in the contiguous USA and formulated a Bayesian spatio-temporal model to quantify how anomalous temperatures, defined as deviations of monthly temperature from the local average monthly temperature over the entire analysis period, affect deaths from unintentional (transport, falls and drownings) and intentional (assault and suicide) injuries, by age group and sex. We found that a 1.5 °C anomalously warm year, as envisioned under the Paris Climate Agreement2, would be associated with an estimated 1,601 (95% credible interval 1,430-1,776) additional injury deaths. Of these additional deaths, 84% would occur in males, mostly in adolescence to middle age. These would comprise increases in deaths from drownings, transport, assault and suicide, offset partly by a decline in deaths from falls in older ages. The findings demonstrate the need for targeted interventions against injuries during periods of anomalously warm temperatures, especially as these episodes are likely to increase with global climate change.


We report acute antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 in 285 patients with COVID-19. Within 19 days after symptom onset, 100% of patients tested positive for antiviral immunoglobulin-G (IgG). Seroconversion for IgG and IgM occurred simultaneously or sequentially. Both IgG and IgM titers plateaued within 6 days after seroconversion. Serological testing may be helpful for the diagnosis of suspected patients with negative RT-PCR results and for the identification of asymptomatic infections.


Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), the most abundant growth factor in the bone matrix, maintains bone mass in adulthood. We now report that IGF-1 released from the bone matrix during bone remodeling stimulates osteoblastic differentiation of recruited mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) by activation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), thus maintaining proper bone microarchitecture and mass. Mice with knockout of the IGF-1 receptor (Igf1r) in their pre-osteoblastic cells showed lower bone mass and mineral deposition rates than wild-type mice. Further, MSCs from Igf1rflox/flox mice with Igf1r deleted by a Cre adenovirus in vitro, although recruited to the bone surface after implantation, were unable to differentiate into osteoblasts. We also found that the concentrations of IGF-1 in the bone matrix and marrow of aged rats were lower than in those of young rats and directly correlated with the age-related decrease in bone mass. Likewise, in age-related osteoporosis in humans, we found that bone marrow IGF-1 concentrations were 40% lower in individuals with osteoporosis than in individuals without osteoporosis. Notably, injection of IGF-1 plus IGF binding protein 3 (IGFBP3), but not injection of IGF-1 alone, increased the concentration of IGF-1 in the bone matrix and stimulated new bone formation in aged rats. Together, these results provide mechanistic insight into how IGF-1 maintains adult bone mass, while also providing a further rationale for its therapeutic targeting to treat age-related osteoporosis.

Concepts: Bone, Stem cell, Mesenchymal stem cell, Bone marrow, Skeletal system, Cellular differentiation, Insulin-like growth factor 1, Insulin-like growth factor


As of 29 February 2020 there were 79,394 confirmed cases and 2,838 deaths from COVID-19 in mainland China. Of these, 48,557 cases and 2,169 deaths occurred in the epicenter, Wuhan. A key public health priority during the emergence of a novel pathogen is estimating clinical severity, which requires properly adjusting for the case ascertainment rate and the delay between symptoms onset and death. Using public and published information, we estimate that the overall symptomatic case fatality risk (the probability of dying after developing symptoms) of COVID-19 in Wuhan was 1.4% (0.9-2.1%), which is substantially lower than both the corresponding crude or naïve confirmed case fatality risk (2,169/48,557 = 4.5%) and the approximator1 of deaths/deaths + recoveries (2,169/2,169 + 17,572 = 11%) as of 29 February 2020. Compared to those aged 30-59 years, those aged below 30 and above 59 years were 0.6 (0.3-1.1) and 5.1 (4.2-6.1) times more likely to die after developing symptoms. The risk of symptomatic infection increased with age (for example, at ~4% per year among adults aged 30-60 years).


In Italy, 128,948 confirmed cases and 15,887 deaths of people who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 were registered as of 5 April 2020. Ending the global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic requires implementation of multiple population-wide strategies, including social distancing, testing and contact tracing. We propose a new model that predicts the course of the epidemic to help plan an effective control strategy. The model considers eight stages of infection: susceptible (S), infected (I), diagnosed (D), ailing (A), recognized ®, threatened (T), healed (H) and extinct (E), collectively termed SIDARTHE. Our SIDARTHE model discriminates between infected individuals depending on whether they have been diagnosed and on the severity of their symptoms. The distinction between diagnosed and non-diagnosed individuals is important because the former are typically isolated and hence less likely to spread the infection. This delineation also helps to explain misperceptions of the case fatality rate and of the epidemic spread. We compare simulation results with real data on the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy, and we model possible scenarios of implementation of countermeasures. Our results demonstrate that restrictive social-distancing measures will need to be combined with widespread testing and contact tracing to end the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


The COVID-19 pandemic has shown a markedly low proportion of cases among children1-4. Age disparities in observed cases could be explained by children having lower susceptibility to infection, lower propensity to show clinical symptoms or both. We evaluate these possibilities by fitting an age-structured mathematical model to epidemic data from China, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Canada and South Korea. We estimate that susceptibility to infection in individuals under 20 years of age is approximately half that of adults aged over 20 years, and that clinical symptoms manifest in 21% (95% credible interval: 12-31%) of infections in 10- to 19-year-olds, rising to 69% (57-82%) of infections in people aged over 70 years. Accordingly, we find that interventions aimed at children might have a relatively small impact on reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission, particularly if the transmissibility of subclinical infections is low. Our age-specific clinical fraction and susceptibility estimates have implications for the expected global burden of COVID-19, as a result of demographic differences across settings. In countries with younger population structures-such as many low-income countries-the expected per capita incidence of clinical cases would be lower than in countries with older population structures, although it is likely that comorbidities in low-income countries will also influence disease severity. Without effective control measures, regions with relatively older populations could see disproportionally more cases of COVID-19, particularly in the later stages of an unmitigated epidemic.