Blood test might spot most dangerous Covid-19 cases

  • Currently, the risk of Covid-19 getting worse or being fatal is based on age and underlying medical conditions
  • A blood test may, however, reveal biomarkers that are linked to worse patient outcomes 
  • This can help doctors make clinical decisions

A simple blood test may predict which Covid-19 patients are likely to get worse and die, a new study suggests.

"When we first started treating Covid-19 patients, we watched them get better or get worse, but we didn't know why," said researcher Dr Juan Reyes. He's an assistant professor of medicine at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, in Washington, D.C.

"Some initial studies had come out of China showing certain biomarkers were associated with bad outcomes. There was a desire to see if that was true for our patients here in the US," Reyes said in a school news release.

Higher levels of biomarkers

For the study, Reyes and his colleagues evaluated nearly 300 patients with Covid-19 admitted to George Washington Hospital between 12 March and 9 May, 2020.

Of these, 200 had all the biomarkers being studied, namely, IL-6, D-dimer, CRP, LDH and ferritin. Higher levels of these markers were tied with inflammation and bleeding disorders, and an increased risk of being admitted to the intensive care unit, needing ventilator support, and death, the researchers found.

Study author Dr Shant Ayanian said, "We hope these biomarkers help physicians determine how aggressively they need to treat patients, whether a patient should be discharged, and how to monitor patients who are going home, among other clinical decisions." Ayanian is an assistant professor of medicine at George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Currently, doctors base the risk of Covid-19 getting worse or being fatal on age and underlying medical conditions. But this simple blood test may aid in making clinical decisions, the researchers said.

The report was published online recently in the journal Future Medicine.

Image credit: Getty Images

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