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Analysis of COVID-19 publications identifies research gaps

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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific and medical journals have published over 100,000 studies on SARS-CoV-2. But according to data scientists who created a machine-learning tool to analyze the deluge of publications, basic lab-based studies on the microbiology of the virus, including research on its pathogenesis and mechanisms of viral transmission, are lacking. Their analysis appears September 16 in the journal Patterns.

“In a crisis like this pandemic, we would expect research outside the lab to happen at a faster pace than lab research,” says first author Anhvinh Doanvo a volunteer data scientist with the COVID-19 Dispersed Volunteer Research Network. “Nevertheless, the relative lack of lab-based studies seems to be unique to SARS-CoV-2, compared to other human coronaviruses. This shortage of lab-based research means that the may miss key aspects of the virus that could impact our ability to contain this pandemic and to counter future ones.”

The investigators used research abstracts obtained from CORD-19 (COVID-19 Open Research Dataset). CORD-19 is updated daily and includes peer-reviewed studies from PubMed Central, as well as preprints from bioRxiv and medRxiv. At the time they conducted their first analysis at the end of May, the dataset included more than 137,000 studies. The analysis was later updated with data through July 31.

The team used two to analyze the data. The first was dimensionality reduction, which helps to find big patterns across many documents, such as abstracts from scientific studies, and to identify trends based on those patterns. The second method, topic modeling, allowed them to group the documents into different topics and to compare research on SARS-CoV-2 to research on other coronaviruses. Unlike previous studies that have focused only on keywords, both of these tools enabled them to review the full text

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Playing Sports | CDC

Make a game plan to reduce risk

You can take a number of steps to help lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure and reduce the spread while playing sports.

The more people a participant interacts with, the closer the physical interaction, the more sharing of equipment there is by multiple players, and the longer the interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.

Therefore, risk of COVID-19 spread can be different, depending on the type of activity.

  • Lowest Risk: Performing skill-building drills or conditioning at home, alone or with members of the same household
  • Increasing Risk: Team-based practice
  • More Risk: Within-team competition
  • Higher Risk: Full competition between teams from the same local geographic area (e.g., city or county)
  • Highest Risk: Full competition between teams from different geographic areas (e.g., outside county or state)

If organizations are not able to keep safety measures in place during competition (for example, keeping participants six feet apart at all times), they may consider limiting participation to within-team competition only (for example, scrimmages between members of the same team) or team-based practices only.

Similarly, if organizations are unable to put in place safety measures during team-based activities, they may choose individual or at-home activities, especially if any members of the team are at an increased risk for severe illness.

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