A two-step test can predict severe Covid-19 cases

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • A two-step test can predict the severity of Covid-19
  • It can do this between the sixth and eighth day after the onset of symptoms
  • It can also help to establish the medication a patient may need before severe disease sets in

A new study has found that a two-step prognostic test can predict the severity of Covid-19, and the worst outcomes of the disease.

The research published in mSphere shows that the testing tool can predict severe disease specificity with an accuracy rate of 83.6%.

Testing the test

The researchers mapped antibodies in the plasma of 86 Covid-19 patients experiencing a wide range of disease states associated with severe disease, as well as admission to the intensive care unit (ICU), requiring a ventilator and death.

The scientists set up a two-step test. The first step involves the polymerase chain reaction, which is a DNA sequence from confirmed Covid-19 patients. The second step involves enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), measuring the binding of antigens from the plasma.

The researchers pooled the plasma, diluted it 100-fold, then applied it as a coating on a microtiter plate as the target antigen for binding to the phage-displayed epitopes. Epitopes are the part of an antigen molecule to which an antibody attaches itself.

They compiled a list of antibodies that might correlate with the worse prognosis and ultimately focused on one that attaches to epitope nine on the nucleocapsid protein. They also developed a tool that applied data to factors including age, sex, and pre-existing health conditions to produce a disease risk factor score.

Predicting abilities 

The study findings show that those with epitope 9 antibodies were more likely to have prolonged illness and worse outcomes than people without the antibodies. 

The data demonstrate that patients with a disease risk factor score greater than three are 13.42 times more likely to have severe Covid-19 disease symptoms.

The antibodies appear early in the course of the disease – six to eight days after symptom onset. This early detection could be used to triage and treat Covid-19 prior to the onset of the most severe symptoms of the disease.

“The results lay the groundwork for a new type of Covid-19 prognostic to allow early identification and triage of high-risk patients,” the authors write. 

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here.

READ| Smell training, not steroids, should be first treatment option for Covid-19 smell loss, experts say

READ| Three-country study finds most effective supplements to help combat Covid-19

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
32% - 9470 votes
68% - 20265 votes