• Viral CpG deficiency provides no evidence that dogs were intermediate hosts for SARS-CoV-2

      Institute for Genomics and Evolutionary Medicine (Temple University) (2020-07-13)
      Due to the scope and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic there exists a strong desire to understand where the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from and how it jumped species boundaries to humans. Molecular evolutionary analyses can trace viral origins by establishing relatedness and divergence times of viruses and identifying past selective pressures. However, we must uphold rigorous standards of inference and interpretation on this topic because of the ramifications of being wrong. Here, we dispute the conclusions of Xia (2020) that dogs are a likely intermediate host of a SARS-CoV-2 ancestor. We highlight major flaws in Xia’s inference process and his analysis of CpG deficiencies, and conclude that there is no direct evidence for the role of dogs as intermediate hosts. Bats and pangolins currently have the greatest support as ancestral hosts of SARS-CoV-2, with the strong caveat that sampling of wildlife species for coronaviruses has been limited.
    • Virtual echocardiography screening tool to differentiate hemodynamic profiles in pulmonary hypertension

      Vaidya, Anjali; Golbus, Jessica R.; Vedage, Natasha A.; Mazurek, Jeremy; Raza, Farhan; Forfia, Paul R. (2020-09-17)
      This study validated a novel virtual echocardiography screening tool (VEST), which utilized routinely reported echocardiography parameters to predict hemodynamic profiles in pulmonary hypertension (PH) and identify PH due to pulmonary vascular disease (PHPVD). Direct echocardiography imaging review has been shown to predict hemodynamic profiles in PH; however, routine use often overemphasizes Doppler-estimated pulmonary artery systolic pressure (PASPDE), which lacks discriminatory power among hemodynamically varied PH subgroups. In patients with PH of varying subtypes at a tertiary referral center, reported echocardiographic findings needed for VEST, including left atrial size, E:e’ and systolic interventricular septal flattening, were obtained. Receiver operating characteristic analyses assessed the predictive performance of VEST vs. PASPDE in identifying PHPVD, which was later confirmed by right heart catheterization. VEST demonstrated far superior discriminatory power than PASPDE in identifying PHPVD. A positive score was 80.0% sensitive and 75.6% specific for PHPVD with an area under the curve of 0.81. PASPDE exhibited poorer discriminatory power with an area under the curve of 0.56. VEST’s strong discriminatory ability remained unchanged when validated in a second cohort from another tertiary center. We demonstrated that this novel VEST using three routine parameters that can be easily extracted from standard echocardiographic reports can successfully capture PH patients with a high likelihood of PHPVD. During the Covid-19 pandemic, when right heart catheterization and timely access to experts at accredited PH centers may have limited widespread availability, this may assist physicians to rapidly and remotely evaluate PH patients to ensure timely and appropriate care.
    • Waiting for the truth: is reluctance in accepting an early origin hypothesis for SARS-CoV-2 delaying our understanding of viral emergence?

      Institute for Genomics and Evolutionary Medicine (Temple University) (2022-03-16)
      Two years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, key questions about the emergence of its aetiological agent (SARS-CoV-2) remain a matter of considerable debate. Identifying when SARS-CoV-2 began spreading among people is one of those questions. Although the current canonically accepted timeline hypothesises viral emergence in Wuhan, China, in November or December 2019, a growing body of diverse studies provides evidence that the virus may have been spreading worldwide weeks, or even months, prior to that time. However, the hypothesis of earlier SARS-CoV-2 circulation is often dismissed with prejudicial scepticism and experimental studies pointing to early origins are frequently and speculatively attributed to false-positive tests. In this paper, we critically review current evidence that SARS-CoV-2 had been circulating prior to December of 2019, and emphasise how, despite some scientific limitations, this hypothesis should no longer be ignored and considered sufficient to warrant further larger-scale studies to determine its veracity.
    • We need to start thinking about promoting the demand, uptake, and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines NOW!

      Abila, Derrick Bary; Dei-Tumi, Sharon D.; Humura, Fabrice; Aja, Godwin N. (2020-11)
      SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) is spreading rapidly within countries around the world, thus necessitating the World Health Organisation (WHO) to project that the peak of the pandemic has not been reached yet. Globally, COVID-19 public health control measures are being implemented; however, promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates are still in the early-stage clinical trials. Judging from previous vaccine programs around the world and the challenges encountered in the distribution and uptake, there seems to be no guarantee that there will be widespread acceptance and equitable distribution of the new COVID-19 vaccines when they are approved for use. Therefore, there is an urgent need to start engaging the public to allay their fears and misconceptions with the view to building trust and promoting acceptance and ultimately achieving a potential impact in controlling the pandemic. Borrowing from previously used successful public health strategies, including the application of the health belief model to engage communities, can go a long way in promoting the demand, uptake, and equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, thereby minimizing the likelihood of vaccine hesitancy.
    • When your data has COVID-19: how the changing context disrupts data collection and what to do about it

      Prommegger, Barbara; Thatcher, Jason; Wiesche, Manuel; Krcmar, Helmut; Thatcher|0000-0002-7136-8836 (2020-12-15)
      Global crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, change the context for research and bring with them many professional challenges for IS researchers – not the least of which is disrupting carefully thought-out data collection efforts. In this confessional tale, we describe how moving from an “open research ecosystem” to a “socially distanced research ecosystem” has affected a long-planned data collection effort. While government orders to socially distance and physically isolate may have made the world “stand still” for some, we found that these orders had dynamic and consequential effects for our in-process research. Against the backdrop of significant threats posed by the contextual change to our data collection, we explain how the crisis also opened up opportunities to invigorate our understanding of how the environment affects how we conduct research. We conclude our tale with guidelines for how to successfully respond when your research is interrupted by a change of context.
    • Will Investments in Human Resources During the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis Pay Off After the Crisis?

      Oh, In‐Sue; Han, Joo Hun (2021-02-03)
      Rudolph et al. (2020), in their focal article, discussed two areas of strategic human resources (HR) policies/practices in which the COVID-19 pandemic crisis calls for action and attention from both HR managers and researchers. The first area is downsizing, which is unavoidable in many firms due to the immediate negative impact of the COVID-19 crisis on firm financial performance. The other area is online training, which deserves more attention due to the immediate need for educating employees for skills that are necessary to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Whereas Rodolph et al. drew on evidence from research when they suggested that “HR managers should strive for a transparent and fair way of communication about downsizing measures” (p. XX), they did not provide evidence-based advice regarding the use of online training. Instead, given the lack of relevant research evidence, Rodolph et al. advanced an interesting research question – “empirical HR research will have to test if [investing in online training during the crisis] indeed pays off in increasing employee skills and productivity in the mid and long run” (p. XX). We believe that recent strategic HR research can provide some useful insights into this question, as discussed below.