LitCovid: For the Latest Reliable Science on COVID-19

By Michael Muscat Apr 20, 2020

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In the ongoing battle against COVID-19, knowledge is power.

In the ongoing battle against COVID-19, knowledge is power. The problem is that too much information about novel coronavirus online and in the news is questionable or untrustworthy. With health systems pushed to the limit, caregivers must seek out the most credible, most reliable sources of knowledge, even as they race against the clock to treat a population in need of intensive care.

Enter organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), AACN and, now, the world’s largest medical library.

That’s right: the library.

For many nurses, libraries call to mind dusty stacks or sleepless nights finishing up that overdue research paper. In response to the pandemic, however, one library in particular has jumped to the information-sharing forefront.


That library would be the National Library of Medicine (NLM). LitCovid is NLM’s new online hub designed to help provide credible scientific information on COVID-19. With more than 5,600 articles curated from PubMed so far, LitCovid is the most comprehensive resource on novel coronavirus available anywhere … and it’s free. You can check it out here.

Articles on LitCovid are curated using the headings GENERAL, MECHANISM, TRANSMISSION, DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT, PREVENTION, CASE REPORT and FORECASTING. Visitors to the site can choose depending on their specialty, needs or curiosity.

Where Does LitCovid Come From?

To understand LitCovid a little better, we may need to back up. Who are they? Why should they be trusted to share the latest peer-reviewed information?

LitCovid is growing all the time; more than 2,000 articles were added in just the first half of April. The hub draws on published literature from NLM’s PubMed, the MEDLINE search engine. NLM runs the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a cabinet-level department of the federal government.

PubMed Central

LitCovid and PubMed (the latter is available at should not be confused with PubMed Central (PMC), the free digital repository that archives full-text scholarly articles from published literature in the biomedical and life sciences. PMC mandates that researchers funded by NIH submit their full-text published articles within a year of publication. The PMC repository is here.

Since mid-March, PMC and other repositories have supported public health emergency response efforts by collaborating with dozens of publishers to make content immediately accessible and discoverable with machine-readable formats and licenses. PMC’s COVID-19 initiative site is here.

Additional Open Access Publishing Resources

Even as many critical care nurses and allied caregivers continue to do their jobs under highly stressful circumstances in an ever-changing environment, resources such as LitCovid and PMC are making helpful research more widely available.

AACN’s critical care society partners: CHEST, the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) and the American Thoracic Society (ATS). The publisher Elsevier; the American Medical Association (AMA); the International Association of STM Publishers (STM); the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) and other organizations in the scholarly publishing community have stepped up in recent weeks, offering a lot of valuable clinical content for free.

Much research would not be accessed if it lived exclusively behind a firewall or required a paid subscription. As you can see, publishing groups and librarians are closely allied with critical care nurses in their valiant effort to care for patients with COVID-19 while keeping themselves safe.

How have free, online open-access published resources including the latest evidence on COVID-19 helped you in your work or led to improved patient outcomes?