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In Annals of palliative medicine ; h5-index 20.0

BACKGROUND : To compare the research hotspots of infections with the Delta and Omicron variants of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and to identify future research trends.

METHODS : Studies about Delta and Omicron variant infections published over the last 3 years were retrieved from the Web of Science (WoS) database. A comparative bibliometric analysis was conducted through machine learning and visualization tools, including VOSviewer, Bibliographic Item Co-Occurrence Matrix Builder, and Graphical Clustering Toolkit. Research hotspots and trends in the field were analyzed, and the contributions and collaborations of countries, institutions, and authors were documented. A cross-sectional analysis of the relevant studies registered at was also performed to clarify the direction of future research.

RESULTS : A total of 1,787 articles distributed in 107 countries and 374 publications from 77 countries focused on the Delta and Omicron variants were included in our bibliometric analysis. The top five productive countries in both variants were the USA, China, the UK, India, and Germany. In 5,999 and 1,107 keywords identified from articles on the Delta and Omicron, the top two frequent keywords were the same: "COVID-19" (occurrence: 713, total link strength: 1,525 in Delta; occurrence: 137, total link strength: 354 in Omicron), followed by "SARS-CoV-2" (occurrence: 553, total link strength: 1,478 in Delta; occurrences 132, total link strength: 395 in Omicron). Five theme clusters from articles on Delta variant were identified: transmission, molecular structure, activation mode, epidemiology, and co-infection. While other three theme clusters were recognized for the Omicron variant: vaccine, human immune response, and infection control. Meanwhile, 21 interventional studies had been registered up to April 2022, most of which aimed to evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of different kinds of vaccines in various populations.

CONCLUSIONS : Publications and clinical trials related to COVID-19 increased annually. As the first comparative bibliometric analysis for Delta and Omicron variants, we noticed that the relevant research trends have shifted from vaccine development to infection control and management of complications. The ongoing clinical studies will verify the safety and efficacy of promising drugs.

Liu Yang-Xi, Wang Li-Hui, Zhu Cheng, Zha Qiong-Fang, Yu Yue-Tian


Bibliometric analysis, Delta variant, Omicron variant, coronavirus disease (COVID), research trends