The severity of Covid-19 can be predicted from the blood count

The severity of Covid-19 can be predicted from the blood count

With a very simple blood count, an international research team has managed to develop an algorithm that can predict who will develop a more serious coronavirus infection

(photo: Pixabay) Covid-19 symptoms will remain mild and will they get worse, leading to a more severe form of the disease? A very common and very simple complete blood count (in short, blood count) of coronavirus positive patients could predict it. This is what emerged from a new study by an international research team, coordinated by Radboud University Medical Center, in the Netherlands, according to which the blood count, the test that detects the amount of blood cells, hematocrit and hemoglobin levels and many other blood parameters, can very accurately predict the progression of the disease, and whether it will therefore have a more or less complicated course. The research has just been published in the journal eLife.

The blood count, we recall, is commonly performed in the emergency room and during the hospitalization of coronavirus positive people. From here, the researchers examined the data of over 2,500 hematological measurements (from the first day in hospital to the 13th day of hospitalization) of 982 patients admitted to eleven hospitals in Europe (including the Pope John XIII hospital in Bergamo). Of these, 64 developed mild symptoms and did not need hospitalization, 198 developed moderate symptoms, 323 severe, 144 critical and 253 fatal. Based on age, gender, duration of symptoms and days of hospitalization, they found that Covid-19 infection is associated with specific changes in blood cells (including lymphocytes, neutrophils, monocytes and red blood cells) which they can represent, therefore , the indicators of the progression of the disease. In particular, thanks to innovative laboratory techniques, they were able to detect whether immune cells are activated, discovering that the more they are present in the blood of Covid-19 patients, from the very beginning of the disease, the more severe the course will be.
From these results, the researchers subsequently developed a prognostic score, a sort of algorithm capable of accurately predicting the course of the disease, with a 93% reliability, and identifying early which patients will recover without the need for ventilation, and who will need intensive care within a two-week period. The blood count, a widely available and inexpensive routine test, could therefore represent a new weapon to fight the coronavirus, right from the beginning of the disease. "A complete blood count is a fully automated, inexpensive, available measurement and one of the most requested laboratory tests in the world," explains study author André van der Ven. “With certain techniques, the behavior of some blood cells can be better identified, and using them, we have been able to develop a reliable prognostic score. This score gives the possibility to predict a serious course of the disease and can, therefore, help the healthcare staff to make therapeutic decisions ”.

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