Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Science (New York, N.Y.)


The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak expanded rapidly throughout China. Major behavioral, clinical, and state interventions have been undertaken to mitigate the epidemic and prevent the persistence of the virus in human populations in China and worldwide. It remains unclear how these unprecedented interventions, including travel restrictions, affected COVID-19 spread in China. We use real-time mobility data from Wuhan and detailed case data including travel history to elucidate the role of case importation on transmission in cities across China and ascertain the impact of control measures. Early on, the spatial distribution of COVID-19 cases in China was explained well by human mobility data. Following the implementation of control measures, this correlation dropped and growth rates became negative in most locations, although shifts in the demographics of reported cases were still indicative of local chains of transmission outside Wuhan. This study shows that the drastic control measures implemented in China substantially mitigated the spread of COVID-19.


Masks and testing are necessary to combat asymptomatic spread in aerosols and droplets.


Despite various levels of preventive measures, in 2020 many countries have suffered severely from the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus. We show that population heterogeneity can significantly impact disease-induced immunity as the proportion infected in groups with the highest contact rates is greater than in groups with low contact rates. We estimate that if R0 = 2.5 in an age-structured community with mixing rates fitted to social activity then the disease-induced herd immunity level can be around 43%, which is substantially less than the classical herd immunity level of 60% obtained through homogeneous immunization of the population. Our estimates should be interpreted as an illustration of how population heterogeneity affects herd immunity, rather than an exact value or even a best estimate.


The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 is a global health emergency. An attractive drug target among coronaviruses is the main protease (Mpro, 3CLpro), due to its essential role in processing the polyproteins that are translated from the viral RNA. We report the X-ray structures of the unliganded SARS-CoV-2 Mpro and its complex with an α-ketoamide inhibitor. This was derived from a previously designed inhibitor but with the P3-P2 amide bond incorporated into a pyridone ring to enhance the half-life of the compound in plasma. Based on the structure, we developed the lead compound into a potent inhibitor of the SARS-CoV-2 Mpro The pharmacokinetic characterization of the optimized inhibitor reveals a pronounced lung tropism and suitability for administration by the inhalative route.


Molecular understanding of neutralizing antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 could accelerate vaccine design and drug discovery. We analyzed 294 anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and found that IGHV3-53 is the most frequently used IGHV gene for targeting the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of the spike protein. Co-crystal structures of two IGHV3-53 neutralizing antibodies with RBD, with or without Fab CR3022, at 2.33 to 3.20 Å resolution revealed that the germline-encoded residues dominate recognition of the ACE2 binding site. This binding mode limits the IGHV3-53 antibodies to short CDR H3 loops, but accommodates light-chain diversity. These IGHV3-53 antibodies show minimal affinity maturation and high potency, which is promising for vaccine design. Knowledge of these structural motifs and binding mode should facilitate design of antigens that elicit this type of neutralizing response.


The virus severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can cause coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), an influenza-like disease that is primarily thought to infect the lungs with transmission via the respiratory route. However, clinical evidence suggests that the intestine may present another viral target organ. Indeed, the SARS-CoV-2 receptor angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is highly expressed on differentiated enterocytes. In human small intestinal organoids (hSIOs), enterocytes were readily infected by SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 as demonstrated by confocal- and electron-microscopy. Consequently, significant titers of infectious viral particles were detected. mRNA expression analysis revealed strong induction of a generic viral response program. Hence, intestinal epithelium supports SARS-CoV-2 replication, and hSIOs serve as an experimental model for coronavirus infection and biology.


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 interventions show an effect. By combining an established epidemiological model with Bayesian inference, we analyze the time dependence of the effective growth rate of new infections. Focusing on COVID-19 spread in Germany, we detect change points in the effective growth rate that correlate well with the times of publicly announced interventions. Thereby, we can quantify the effect of interventions, and we can incorporate the corresponding change points into forecasts of future scenarios and case numbers. Our code is freely available and can be readily adapted to any country or region.


COVID-19 is currently a global pandemic, but human immune responses to the virus remain poorly understood. We analyzed 125 COVID-19 patients, and compared recovered to healthy individuals using high dimensional cytometry. Integrated analysis of ~200 immune and ~50 clinical features revealed activation of T cell and B cell subsets in a proportion of patients. A subgroup of patients had T cell activation characteristic of acute viral infection and plasmablast responses reaching >30% of circulating B cells. However, another subgroup had lymphocyte activation comparable to uninfected subjects. Stable versus dynamic immunological signatures were identified and linked to trajectories of disease severity change. These analyses identified three “immunotypes” associated with poor clinical trajectories versus improving health. These immunotypes may have implications for the design of therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19.


Responding to an outbreak of a novel coronavirus (agent of COVID-19) in December 2019, China banned travel to and from Wuhan city on 23 January and implemented a national emergency response. We investigated the spread and control of COVID-19 using a unique data set including case reports, human movement and public health interventions. The Wuhan shutdown was associated with the delayed arrival of COVID-19 in other cities by 2.91 days (95%CI: 2.54-3.29). Cities that implemented control measures pre-emptively reported fewer cases, on average, in the first week of their outbreaks (13.0; 7.1-18.8) compared with cities that started control later (20.6; 14.5-26.8). Suspending intra-city public transport, closing entertainment venues and banning public gatherings were associated with reductions in case incidence. The national emergency response appears to have delayed the growth and limited the size of the COVID-19 epidemic in China, averting hundreds of thousands of cases by 19 February (day 50).


The spike (S) protein of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is required for cell entry and is the major focus for vaccine development. Here, we combine cryo electron tomography, subtomogram averaging and molecular dynamics simulations to structurally analyze S in situ. Compared to recombinant S, the viral S was more heavily glycosylated and occurred mostly in the closed pre-fusion conformation. We show that the stalk domain of S contains three hinges, giving the head unexpected orientational freedom. We propose that the hinges allow S to scan the host cell surface, shielded from antibodies by an extensive glycan coat. The structure of native S contributes to our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the development of safe vaccines.