Media alert–forthcoming reviews from RAPID REVIEWS:COVID-19

Studies slated for review include preprints claiming that racial/ethnic disparities are bigger than previously reported, investigating the prevalence of antibodies in healthcare workers, and analyzing the effectiveness of 10-day quarantines.

CAMBRIDGE, MA – October 22, 2020Rapid Reviews: COVID-19 (RR:C19), an open-access overlay journal published by the MIT Press that accelerates peer review of COVID-19-related research preprints, is currently soliciting reviews of the following COVID-19 preprints. These preprints have been selected for review because they have the potential to enhance our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 or have been flagged as potentially misleading. Preprints with two finished reviews should be published within 10-14 days. Additional information or early access to these peer-reviews is available upon request.

Highlights from Rapid Reviews editorial team:

  • “Measuring the missing: greater racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 burden after accounting for missing race/ethnicity data” by Katie Labgold, et al.

    Preprint Summary: After bias-adjustment, the magnitude of the absolute racial/ethnic disparity, measured as the difference in infection rates between classified Black and Hispanic persons compared to classified White persons, increased 1.3-fold and 1.6-fold respectively.

  • “Seroprevalence of SARS-COV-2 antibodies in Scottish healthcare workers” by Hani Abo-Leyah, et al.

    Preprint Summary: Serological testing can be used to determine the prevalence and incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection. 299/2062 had positive antibody test against spike protein (Seroprev = 14.5%). 11/231 control tested sera positive (seroprev 4.8%). Healthcare worker’s odds of having a positive test was 3.4 greater than control. Dentists most frequently associated with detected antibodies (26%) followed by health care assistants (23.3%) and porters (22.2%).

  • “Quantifying the impact of quarantine duration on COVID-19 transmission” by Peter Ashcroft, et al.

    Preprint Summary: Asserts that there are greatly diminished returns in terms of avoided transmission with quarantine duration greater than 10 days. Also, the ratio of (prevented transmission):(days spent in quarantine) would decrease further when coupled with test-and-release strategies and hygiene reinforcement post-release. Lastly, they find that a pure test-and-release strategy performs almost as well as a 10-day quarantine, with far lower costs compared to lost productivity due to quarantine.


Physical Sciences/Engineering

  • “Ultrasensitive and selective detection of SARS-CoV-2 using thermotropic liquid crystals and image-based machine learning” by Yang Xu, et al.

    Preprint Summary: This study developed a novel diagnostic strategy that uses liquid crystal-conjugated nucleic acid probes to detect SARS-CoV-2 genetic sequences and show 3-base pair mismatches reduce signal by log 7. The authors also develop a diagnostic kit, including machine learning algorithm and diagnostic app to facilitate use in a Point of Care setting.

  • “A sew-free origami mask for improvised respiratory protection” by Jonathan Realmuto, et al.

    Preprint Summary: An origami mask with adequate filtration efficiency can be made by non-experts using two elastic straps, square piece of filter material, nose clip material (twist tie, paper clip, etc.), and stapler. These masks can be made easily with minimal materials while providing appropriate filtration as tested using a mannequin based test for air flow and filtration.

  • “Hitting the diagnostic sweet spot: Point-of-care SARS-CoV-2 salivary antigen testing with an off-the-shelf glucometer” by Naveen Singh, et al.

    Preprint Summary: A SARS-CoV-2 salivary antigen assay that uses a glucometer as readout for point-of-care diagnosis. The test is based on low-cost($3.20/test) reagents and off-the-shelf glucometer, and was able to deliver 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity within one hour as benchmarked by RT-qPCR.

  • “SARS-CoV-2 viral budding and entry can be modeled using virus-like particles” by Caroline Plescia, et al.

    Preprint Summary: This study documents purification and assembly of SARS-CoV-2 Virus-like particles (VLPs). They study viral budding and entry in the presence of potential inhibitory drugs, in BSL-2 conditions.

Biological/Chemical Sciences

  • “SARS-CoV-2 cell entry gene ACE2 expression in immune cells that infiltrate the placenta in infection-associated preterm birth” by Phatcharawan Lye, et al.

    Preprint Summary: This study claims placental tissue affected by chorioamnioitis or stimulated with pro-inflammatory bacterial components (LPS) show marked ACE2 upregulation in the synctiotrophoblast, tissue-resident myeloid cells, villous stroma, and fetal blood vessels. The authors claim COVID19+ patients in ChA-afflicted patients are at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 vertical transmission.

  • “Landscape of public T cell receptors associated with recovery from COVID-19” by Donjete Simnica, et al.

    Preprint Summary: This paper identifies TCR sequences overrepresented in recovered COVID19 patients relative to samples from deceased patients. The study also finds these clonal populations present in samples obtained prior to the pandemic and find these clones are less prevalent in more high-risk demographics (older and cancer-afflicted individuals).

  • “SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein promotes hyper-inflammatory response that can be ameliorated by Spike-antagonistic peptide and FDA-approved ER stress and MAP kinase inhibitors in vitro” by Alan C-Y. Hsu, et al.

    Preprint Summary: SARS-Cov-2 causes a damaging pro-inflammatory response by activating NF-kB signaling, downstream of ACE2 binding, MAPK signaling, and the ER stress response machinery. This response can pathway can be targeted with an inhibitory peptide against Spike or FDA-approved ER stress and MAPK inhibitors. 

Public Health

  • “Comparison of infection control strategies to reduce COVID-19 outbreaks in homeless shelters in the United States: a simulation study” by Lloyd A.C. Chapman, et al.

    Preprint Summary: A combined strategy involving daily symptom screening, universal mask wearing, twice-weekly PCR testing and re-location of high-risk individuals was simulated to have a 68% probability of averting an outbreak in low-risk settings. Weaknesses in methodology include assumption of 1-day turnaround for test results and that previous cases become immune. Methods also limited by lack of contact tracing in model.

  • “Projected HIV and bacterial STI incidence following COVID-related sexual distancing and clinical service interruption” by Samuel Jenness, et al.

    Preprint Summary: Relative decrease in sexual partnerships and clinical services of STI during pandemic would lead to a decrease in HIV and STI infections. Greater relative reduction to clinical services and longer service interruptions leads to increase in HIV and STI infection rates. Modelling suggests that sexual distancing lasting 3 months while clinical services interruption lasting 18 moths, would lead to an additional 890 HIV cases and 57.5K STI cases in the studied city (Atlanta) during the following 5yrs.

  • “COVID-19 is feminine: grammatical gender influences future danger perceptions and precautionary behavior”

    Preprint Summary: Following surveys to French and Spanish speaking individuals, the authors show that the virus is considered less likely to be dangerous in the future when thoughts of the concept are activated with the feminine grammatical gender than when they are activated with the masculine grammatical gender, which in turn reduces intentions to engage in behaviors to reduce the chances of contracting the disease or spreading the virus in potential consumption episodes.

Medical Sciences

  • “SARS-CoV-2 antibody responses in patients with aggressive haematological malignancies” by Jenny O’Nions, et al.

    Preprint Summary: The majority (8/9) of Patients with Hematologic Malignancy (PHM) with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection seroconverted and developed antibodies to the major SARS-CoV-2 antigens (S1 and N) with most (6/8) produced neutralizing antibody responses. Furthermore, the dynamics of antibody responses were broadly similar to that reported for the general population, except for a possible delay to seroconversion.

  • “COVID-19 classification of x-ray images using deep neural networks” by Elisha Goldstein, et al.

    Preprint Summary: Deep Neural Networks can be used to reliably classify CXR images as COVID-19 positive or negative. The model achieved 89.7% accuracy and 87.1% sensitivity (testing 15% of images) in classification of COVID-19 and area under receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.95. This could be a tool used to rapidly identify and isolate positive COVID-19 patients, which would contribute to contain the disease.

  • “COVID-19 infection may cause thyroid dysfunction” by Hongmei Zhang.

    Preprint Summary: Relative to the control, COVID+ patients had lower serum levels of T3 and TSH and higher levels of T4. Thyroid dysfunction in COVID+ patients manifested often as non-thyroidal illness syndrome (NTIS). The FT3/FT4 ratio was negatively correlated with COVID-19 death in the multivariate logistic regression analysis. AUC for the FT3/FT4 ratio was 0·716 (p =0·000, 95%CI=0·633-0·799).


RR:C19 is published by the MIT Press and the editorial offices are located at UC Berkeley, headed by editor-in-chief Stefano M. Bertozzi, Professor of Health Policy and Management and Dean Emeritus of the School of Public Health at University of California Berkeley. The journal is funded by a grant from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation and hosted on PubPub, an open-source publishing platform from the Knowledge Futures Group. 

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