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In December 2019, a pneumonia caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in Wuhan, China and has rapidly spread around the world since then.


This study aims to understand the research gaps related to COVID-19 and propose recommendations for future research.


We undertook a scoping review of COVID-19, comprehensively searching databases and other sources to identify literature on COVID-19 between 1 December 2019 and 6 February 2020. We analysed the sources, publication date, type and topic of the retrieved articles/studies.


We included 249 articles in this scoping review. More than half (59.0%) were conducted in China. Guidance/guidelines and consensuses statements (n = 56; 22.5%) were the most common. Most (n = 192; 77.1%) articles were published in peer-reviewed journals, 35 (14.1%) on preprint servers and 22 (8.8%) posted online. Ten genetic studies (4.0%) focused on the origin of SARS-CoV-2 while the topics of molecular studies varied. Nine of 22 epidemiological studies focused on estimating the basic reproduction number of COVID-19 infection (R). Of all identified guidance/guidelines (n = 35), only ten fulfilled the strict principles of evidence-based practice. The number of articles published per day increased rapidly until the end of January.


The number of articles on COVID-19 steadily increased before 6 February 2020. However, they lack diversity and are almost non-existent in some study fields, such as clinical research. The findings suggest that evidence for the development of clinical practice guidelines and public health policies will be improved when more results from clinical research becomes available.


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