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Emergency Medicine Journal COVID-19 monthly top five
  1. Michael Tonkins1,2,
  2. Jamie Miles1,3,
  3. Colin O'Keeffe1,
  4. Sonia Jimenez Forero1,
  5. Steve Goodacre1,2
  1. 1 School of Health and Related Research, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  2. 2 Emergency Department, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield, UK
  3. 3 Research and Development, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Wakefield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michael Tonkins, The University of Sheffield School of Health and Related Research, Sheffield S1 4DA, UK; m.tonkins{at}

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Edited by Dr Gabrielle Prager on behalf of the RCEM COVID-19 CPD team

Following from the successful ‘RCEM weekly top five’ series starting in April 2020, this is the third of a monthly format for EMJ readers. We have undertaken a focused search of the PubMed literature using a standardised COVID-19 search string. Our search between 1 December and 31 December 2020 returned 1183 papers limited to human subjects and English language. We also searched high impact journals for papers of interest.

Our team have narrowed down the most interesting, relevant and important of the papers and provided a critical snapshot of five of those we felt most deserved EMJ reader attention. Importantly, we have highlighted not only the main findings from the papers but also key limitations and considerations for EM clinicians when interpreting the work. In doing so we have created an accessible window into pertinent research findings for our busy colleagues during this fast-paced and ever-changing COVID-19 landscape.

The papers are ranked in one of three categories, allowing you to focus on those that are most vital to your practice:

  • Worth a peek—interesting, but not yet ready for prime time.

  • Head turner—new concepts.

  • Game changer—this paper could/should change practice.

This month’s searches were undertaken by the Centre for Urgent and Emergency Care Research at the University of Sheffield. We look forward to next month’s instalment by our colleagues in Leicester.

Repurposed antiviral drugs for COVID-19—interim WHO solidarity trial results1

Topic: treatment

Rating: game changer

In March 2020, the WHO recommended randomised trials into potential treatments for COVID-19. Experts agreed on four antiviral drugs that could be repurposed to reduce mortality in this patient group. The four drugs were remdesivir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir and interferon beta-1a.

Within a month a large international, open-label randomised trial was launched at 405 hospitals in 30 different countries. There was no placebo group; the control group consisted …

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  • Twitter @MikeTonkins, @jamie_147

  • Collaborators The RCEM COVID-19 CPD Team: Dr Charles Reynard, Dr Anisa Jafar, Dr Daniel Darbyshire, Dr Govind Oliver, Dr Gabrielle Prager and Professor Simon Carley.

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the selection and assessment of studies, and to drafting and editing the manuscript.

  • Funding Dr Michael Tonkins is supported by a National Institute for Health Research Academic Clinical Fellowship.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement statement Patients and the public were not involved in the creation of this article.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.