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Published February 2021 | Version v1.0.0
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A Timely Call to Arms: COVID-19, the Circadian Clock, and Critical Care

  • 1. ROR icon Washington University in St. Louis
  • 2. ROR icon Northwestern University
  • 3. ROR icon Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  • 4. ROR icon University of Padua
  • 5. ROR icon Salk Institute for Biological Studies


We currently find ourselves in the midst of a global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the highly infectious novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Here, we discuss aspects of SARS-CoV-2 biology and pathology and how these might interact with the circadian clock of the host. We further focus on the severe manifestation of the illness, leading to hospitalization in an intensive care unit. The most common severe complications of COVID-19 relate to clock-regulated human physiology. We speculate on how the pandemic might be used to gain insights on the circadian clock but, more importantly, on how knowledge of the circadian clock might be used to mitigate the disease expression and the clinical course of COVID-19.


original_citation: Haspel J, Kim M, Zee P, Schwarzmeier T, Montagnese S, Panda S, Albani A, Merrow M. A Timely Call to Arms: COVID-19, the Circadian Clock, and Critical Care. Journal of Biological Rhythms. 2021;36(1):55-70.


We are grateful for the participation of so many colleagues in the European Biological Rhythms Society (EBRS) Workshop Chonobiology of COVID-19. The open discussion helped us to solidify our ideas and concepts for how chronobiology could intersect severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) biology and COVID-19 severe illness. The work of M.M. is supported by the Volkswagen Foundation (Life? Funding Program: The Fourth Dimension) and by the Friedrich Bauer Stiftung and the Verein zur Forderung von Wissenschaft und Forschung of the LMU Munich. The work of A.A. is supported by the Munich Excellence Training Initiative for Physician Scientists (Metiphys) program of the LMU Munich. The work of T.S. is supported by the Frderprogramm fr Forschung und Lehre (FFoLe) of the LMU Munich


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March 30, 2023
April 27, 2023