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EuropePMC; 2021.
Preprint in English | EuropePMC | ID: ppcovidwho-296955


The infection caused by SARS-CoV-2, responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, is characterized by an infectious period with either asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic phases, leading to a rapid surge of mild and severe cases putting national health systems under serious stress. To avoid their collapse, and in the absence of pharmacological treatments, during the early pandemic phase countries worldwide were forced to adopt strategies, from elimination to mitigation, based on non-pharmacological interventions which, in turn, overloaded social, educational and economic systems. To date, the heterogeneity and incompleteness of data sources does not allow to quantify the multifaceted impact of the pandemic at country level and, consequently, to compare the effectiveness of country responses. Here, we tackle this challenge from a complex systems perspective, proposing a model to evaluate the impact of systemic failures in response to the pandemic shock. We use health, behavioral and economic indicators for 44 countries to build a shock index quantifying responses in terms of robustness and resilience, highlighting the crucial advantage of proactive policy and decision making styles over reactive ones.

Cells ; 10(3)2021 03 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1125522


Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, the handling of biological samples from confirmed or suspected SARS-CoV-2-positive individuals demanded the use of inactivation protocols to ensure laboratory operators' safety. While not standardized, these practices can be roughly divided into two categories, namely heat inactivation and solvent-detergent treatments. These routine procedures should also apply to samples intended for Extracellular Vesicles (EVs) analysis. Assessing the impact of virus-inactivating pre-treatments is therefore of pivotal importance, given the well-known variability introduced by different pre-analytical steps on downstream EVs isolation and analysis. Arguably, shared guidelines on inactivation protocols tailored to best address EVs-specific requirements will be needed among the analytical community, yet deep investigations in this direction have not yet been reported. We here provide insights into SARS-CoV-2 inactivation practices to be adopted prior to serum EVs analysis by comparing solvent/detergent treatment vs. heat inactivation. Our analysis entails the evaluation of EVs recovery and purity along with biochemical, biophysical and biomolecular profiling by means of a set of complementary analytical techniques: Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis, Western Blotting, Atomic Force Microscopy, miRNA content (digital droplet PCR) and tetraspanin assessment by microarrays. Our data suggest an increase in ultracentrifugation (UC) recovery following heat treatment; however, it is accompanied by a marked enrichment in EVs-associated contaminants. On the other hand, solvent/detergent treatment is promising for small EVs (<150 nm range), yet a depletion of larger vesicular entities was detected. This work represents a first step towards the identification of optimal serum inactivation protocols targeted to EVs analysis.

COVID-19/blood , Containment of Biohazards/methods , Extracellular Vesicles/chemistry , Virus Inactivation , COVID-19/virology , Detergents/pharmacology , Extracellular Vesicles/drug effects , Extracellular Vesicles/genetics , Hot Temperature , Humans , MicroRNAs/analysis , Microarray Analysis , Microscopy, Atomic Force , SARS-CoV-2 , Tetraspanins/analysis , Ultracentrifugation
Nat Hum Behav ; 4(12): 1285-1293, 2020 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-894397


During COVID-19, governments and the public are fighting not only a pandemic but also a co-evolving infodemic-the rapid and far-reaching spread of information of questionable quality. We analysed more than 100 million Twitter messages posted worldwide during the early stages of epidemic spread across countries (from 22 January to 10 March 2020) and classified the reliability of the news being circulated. We developed an Infodemic Risk Index to capture the magnitude of exposure to unreliable news across countries. We found that measurable waves of potentially unreliable information preceded the rise of COVID-19 infections, exposing entire countries to falsehoods that pose a serious threat to public health. As infections started to rise, reliable information quickly became more dominant, and Twitter content shifted towards more credible informational sources. Infodemic early-warning signals provide important cues for misinformation mitigation by means of adequate communication strategies.

COVID-19 , Consumer Health Information/statistics & numerical data , Mass Media/statistics & numerical data , Social Media/statistics & numerical data , Social Networking , Humans , Models, Theoretical , Risk Assessment