SciCombinator

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

3136

Mandates for mask use in public during the recent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, worsened by global shortage of commercial supplies, have led to widespread use of homemade masks and mask alternatives. It is assumed that wearing such masks reduces the likelihood for an infected person to spread the disease, but many of these mask designs have not been tested in practice. We have demonstrated a simple optical measurement method to evaluate the efficacy of masks to reduce the transmission of respiratory droplets during regular speech. In proof-of-principle studies, we compared a variety of commonly available mask types and observed that some mask types approach the performance of standard surgical masks, while some mask alternatives, such as neck gaiters or bandanas, offer very little protection. Our measurement setup is inexpensive and can be built and operated by nonexperts, allowing for rapid evaluation of mask performance during speech, sneezing, or coughing.

2004

Community and close contact exposures continue to drive the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. CDC and other public health authorities recommend community mitigation strategies to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 (1,2). Characterization of community exposures can be difficult to assess when widespread transmission is occurring, especially from asymptomatic persons within inherently interconnected communities. Potential exposures, such as close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19, have primarily been assessed among COVID-19 cases, without a non-COVID-19 comparison group (3,4). To assess community and close contact exposures associated with COVID-19, exposures reported by case-patients (154) were compared with exposures reported by control-participants (160). Case-patients were symptomatic adults (persons aged ≥18 years) with SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing. Control-participants were symptomatic outpatient adults from the same health care facilities who had negative SARS-CoV-2 test results. Close contact with a person with known COVID-19 was more commonly reported among case-patients (42%) than among control-participants (14%). Case-patients were more likely to have reported dining at a restaurant (any area designated by the restaurant, including indoor, patio, and outdoor seating) in the 2 weeks preceding illness onset than were control-participants (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 2.4; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.5-3.8). Restricting the analysis to participants without known close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19, case-patients were more likely to report dining at a restaurant (aOR = 2.8, 95% CI = 1.9-4.3) or going to a bar/coffee shop (aOR = 3.9, 95% CI = 1.5-10.1) than were control-participants. Exposures and activities where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, including going to places that offer on-site eating or drinking, might be important risk factors for acquiring COVID-19. As communities reopen, efforts to reduce possible exposures at locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities.

492

Although COVID-19 causes cardiac dysfunction in up to 25% of patients, its pathogenesis remains unclear. Exposure of human iPSC-derived heart cells to SARS-CoV-2 revealed productive infection and robust transcriptomic and morphological signatures of damage, particularly in cardiomyocytes. Transcriptomic disruption of structural proteins corroborated adverse morphologic features, which included a distinct pattern of myofibrillar fragmentation and numerous iPSC-cardiomyocytes lacking nuclear DNA. Human autopsy specimens from COVID-19 patients displayed similar sarcomeric disruption, as well as cardiomyocytes without DNA staining. These striking cytopathic features provide new insights into SARS-CoV-2 induced cardiac damage, offer a platform for discovery of potential therapeutics, and raise serious concerns about the long-term consequences of COVID-19.

448

Although COVID-19 is considered to be primarily a respiratory disease, SARS-CoV-2 affects multiple organ systems including the central nervous system (CNS). Yet, there is no consensus whether the virus can infect the brain, or what the consequences of CNS infection are. Here, we used three independent approaches to probe the capacity of SARS-CoV-2 to infect the brain. First, using human brain organoids, we observed clear evidence of infection with accompanying metabolic changes in the infected and neighboring neurons. However, no evidence for the type I interferon responses was detected. We demonstrate that neuronal infection can be prevented either by blocking ACE2 with antibodies or by administering cerebrospinal fluid from a COVID-19 patient. Second, using mice overexpressing human ACE2, we demonstrate in vivo that SARS-CoV-2 neuroinvasion, but not respiratory infection, is associated with mortality. Finally, in brain autopsy from patients who died of COVID-19, we detect SARS-CoV-2 in the cortical neurons, and note pathologic features associated with infection with minimal immune cell infiltrates. These results provide evidence for the neuroinvasive capacity of SARS-CoV2, and an unexpected consequence of direct infection of neurons by SARS-CoV-2.

418

Hematite (Fe2O3) is a common oxidization product on Earth, Mars, and some asteroids. Although oxidizing processes have been speculated to operate on the lunar surface and form ferric iron-bearing minerals, unambiguous detections of ferric minerals forming under highly reducing conditions on the Moon have remained elusive. Our analyses of the Moon Mineralogy Mapper data show that hematite, a ferric mineral, is present at high latitudes on the Moon, mostly associated with east- and equator-facing sides of topographic highs, and is more prevalent on the nearside than the farside. Oxygen delivered from Earth’s upper atmosphere could be the major oxidant that forms lunar hematite. Hematite at craters of different ages may have preserved the oxygen isotopes of Earth’s atmosphere in the past billions of years. Future oxygen isotope measurements can test our hypothesis and may help reveal the evolution of Earth’s atmosphere.

412

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), also known as pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome, is a new dangerous childhood disease that is temporally associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We aimed to describe the typical presentation and outcomes of children diagnosed with this hyperinflammatory condition.

275

Quantum communication is rapidly gaining popularity due to its high security and technological maturity. However, most implementations are limited to just two communicating parties (users). Quantum communication networks aim to connect a multitude of users. Here, we present a fully connected quantum communication network on a city-wide scale without active switching or trusted nodes. We demonstrate simultaneous and secure connections between all 28 pairings of eight users. Our novel network topology is easily scalable to many users, allows traffic management features, and minimizes the infrastructure as well as the user hardware needed.

269

Spermatogonial stem cell transplantation (SSCT) is an experimental technique for transfer of germline between donor and recipient males that could be used as a tool for biomedical research, preservation of endangered species, and dissemination of desirable genetics in food animal populations. To fully realize these potentials, recipient males must be devoid of endogenous germline but possess normal testicular architecture and somatic cell function capable of supporting allogeneic donor stem cell engraftment and regeneration of spermatogenesis. Here we show that male mice, pigs, goats, and cattle harboring knockout alleles of the NANOS2 gene generated by CRISPR-Cas9 editing have testes that are germline ablated but otherwise structurally normal. In adult pigs and goats, SSCT with allogeneic donor stem cells led to sustained donor-derived spermatogenesis. With prepubertal mice, allogeneic SSCT resulted in attainment of natural fertility. Collectively, these advancements represent a major step toward realizing the enormous potential of surrogate sires as a tool for dissemination and regeneration of germplasm in all mammalian species.

258

Temporary disruptions in routine and nonemergency medical care access and delivery have been observed during periods of considerable community transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (1). However, medical care delay or avoidance might increase morbidity and mortality risk associated with treatable and preventable health conditions and might contribute to reported excess deaths directly or indirectly related to COVID-19 (2). To assess delay or avoidance of urgent or emergency and routine medical care because of concerns about COVID-19, a web-based survey was administered by Qualtrics, LLC, during June 24-30, 2020, to a nationwide representative sample of U.S. adults aged ≥18 years. Overall, an estimated 40.9% of U.S. adults have avoided medical care during the pandemic because of concerns about COVID-19, including 12.0% who avoided urgent or emergency care and 31.5% who avoided routine care. The estimated prevalence of urgent or emergency care avoidance was significantly higher among the following groups: unpaid caregivers for adults* versus noncaregivers (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] = 2.9); persons with two or more selected underlying medical conditions† versus those without those conditions (aPR = 1.9); persons with health insurance versus those without health insurance (aPR = 1.8); non-Hispanic Black (Black) adults (aPR = 1.6) and Hispanic or Latino (Hispanic) adults (aPR = 1.5) versus non-Hispanic White (White) adults; young adults aged 18-24 years versus adults aged 25-44 years (aPR = 1.5); and persons with disabilities§ versus those without disabilities (aPR = 1.3). Given this widespread reporting of medical care avoidance because of COVID-19 concerns, especially among persons at increased risk for severe COVID-19, urgent efforts are warranted to ensure delivery of services that, if deferred, could result in patient harm. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, persons experiencing a medical emergency should seek and be provided care without delay (3).

256

The role of ocean anoxia as a cause of the end-Triassic marine mass extinction is widely debated. Here, we present carbonate-associated sulfate δ34S data from sections spanning the Late Triassic-Early Jurassic transition, which document synchronous large positive excursions on a global scale occurring in ~50 thousand years. Biogeochemical modeling demonstrates that this S isotope perturbation is best explained by a fivefold increase in global pyrite burial, consistent with large-scale development of marine anoxia on the Panthalassa margin and northwest European shelf. This pyrite burial event coincides with the loss of Triassic taxa seen in the studied sections. Modeling results also indicate that the pre-event ocean sulfate concentration was low (<1 millimolar), a common feature of many Phanerozoic deoxygenation events. We propose that sulfate scarcity preconditions oceans for the development of anoxia during rapid warming events by increasing the benthic methane flux and the resulting bottom-water oxygen demand.