Abstract Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was initially described as a viral infection of the respiratory tract. It is now known, however, that many other biological systems are affected, including the central nervous system (CNS). Neurological manifestations such as stroke, encephalitis, and psychiatric conditions have been reported in COVID-19 patients, but its neurotropic potential is still debated. Here, we investigate the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the brain from an infant patient deceased from COVID-19. The susceptibility to virus infection was compatible with the expression levels of viral receptor ACE2, which is increased in the ChP in comparison to other brain areas. To better comprehend the dynamics of the viral infection in neural cells, we exposed human neurospheres to SARS-CoV-2. Similarly to the human tissue, we found viral RNA in neurospheres, although viral particles in the culture supernatant were not infective. Based on our observations in vivo and in vitro, we hypothesize that SARS-CoV-2 does not generate productive infection in developing neural cells and that infection of ChP weakens the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier allowing viruses, immune cells, and cytokines to access the CNS, causing neural damage in the young brain.

2nd October 2020 • comment

Psycho-Neuroendocrine-Immune Interactions in COVID-19: Potential Impacts on Mental Health

by Ícaro Raony, Camila Saggioro de Figueiredo, Pablo Pandolfo, Elizabeth Giestal-de-Araujo, Priscilla Oliveira-Silva Bomfim, Wilson Savino

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The impacts of the disease may be beyond the respiratory system, also affecting mental health. Several factors may be involved in the association between COVID-19 and psychiatric outcomes, such as fear inherent in the pandemic, adverse effects of treatments, as well as financial stress, and social isolation. Herein we discuss the growing evidence suggesting that the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 and host may also trigger changes in brain and behavior. Based on the similarity of SARS-CoV-2 with other coronaviruses, it is conceivable that changes in endocrine and immune response in the periphery or in the central nervous system may be involved in the association between SARS-CoV-2 infection and impaired mental health. This is likely to be further enhanced, since millions of people worldwide are isolated in quarantine to minimize the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and social isolation can also lead to neuroendocrine-immune changes. Accordingly, we highlight here the hypothesis that neuroendocrine-immune interactions may be involved in negative impacts of SARS-CoV-2 infection and social isolation on psychiatric issues.

4th July 2020 • comment

The COVID‐19 epidemic through a gender lens: what if a gender approach had been applied to inform public health measures to fight the COVID‐19 pandemic?

by Cristina Enguita‐Fernàndez, Elena Marbán-Castro, Olivia Manders, Lauren Maxwell, Gustavo Correa Matta
14th June 2020 • comment

Personal data usage and privacy considerations in the COVID-19 global pandemic

by Bethania Almeida, Danilo Doneda, Maria Yury Ichihara, Manoel Barral-Netto, Gustavo Correa Matta, Elaine Teixeira Rabello, Fabio Castro Gouveia, Mauricio Barreto

Data is becoming ever more critical and valuable for both scientists and health authorities searching for answers to the COVID-19 crisis. Due to difficulties in diagnosing this infection in populations around the world, initiatives supported by digital technologies have been developed by governments or private companies which enable the tracking of the public’s symptoms, contacts and movements. Considering the current scenario, these initiatives, designed to support the surveillance and monitoring of contagion, are essential and necessary.  Nonetheless, ethical, legal and technical questions remain unanswered regarding the amount and types of personal data being collected, processed, shared and used in the name of public health, as well as the concomitant or later use of this data. These challenges demonstrate the need for new models of responsible and transparent data and technology governance in efforts to control Sars-Cov2 as well as future public health emergencies.

28th May 2020 • comment
14th April 2020 • comment

The global spread of 2019-nCoV: a molecular evolutionary analysis

by Domenico Benvenuto, Marta Giovanetti, Marco Salemi, Mattia Prosperi, Cecilia De Flora, Luiz Carlos J

The global spread of the 2019-nCoV is continuing and is fast moving, as indicated by the WHO raising the risk assessment to high. In this article, we provide a preliminary phylodynamic and phylogeographic analysis of this new virus. A Maximum Clade Credibility tree has been built using the 29 available whole genome sequences of 2019-nCoV and two whole genome sequences that are highly similar sequences from Bat SARS-like Coronavirus available in GeneBank. We are able to clarify the mechanism of transmission among the countries which have provided the 2019-nCoV sequence isolates from their patients. The Bayesian phylogeographic reconstruction shows that the 2019–2020 nCoV most probably originated from the Bat SARS-like Coronavirus circulating in the Rhinolophus bat family. In agreement with epidemiological observations, the most likely geographic origin of the new outbreak was the city of Wuhan, China, where 2019-nCoV time of the most recent common ancestor emerged, according to molecular clock analysis, around November 25th, 2019. These results, together with previously recorded epidemics, suggest a recurring pattern of periodical epizootic outbreaks due to Betacoronavirus. Moreover, our study describes the same population genetic dynamic underlying the SARS 2003 epidemic, and suggests the urgent need for the development of effective molecular surveillance strategies of Betacoronavirus among animals and Rhinolophus of the bat family.

27th February 2020 • comment