What is it about?

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to claim lives around the world. This emphasises the need to identify clinical and laboratory markers that can predict the progression of the infection to severe disease. To this end, this study used electronic search data from 2019 to March 2020 to examine 33 laboratory parameters from 21 studies on patients with COVID-19 with and without severe and fatal forms of the disease. The white blood cell (WBC) count was found to be slightly higher in individuals with severe disease and in those who succumbed to the disease. These patients also showed a decreased ‘lymphocyte’ (a type of WBC) and platelet count compared to those without severe disease and survivors, presumably because they could not be properly replenished after being destroyed by the virus. In people with severe disease and non-survivors, indicators of heart and muscle injury and liver and kidney function were all elevated. When compared to survivors, markers like serum ferritin and inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-10 were significantly higher in the patients who died.

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Why is it important?

Clearly, these parameters mark a major difference between severe and non-severe disease conditions. When predicting COVID-19 severity or mortality, it is crucial to consider these factors since they can be used to determine if the condition has progressed in severity. Since most of these studies were conducted in China, it is critical for future studies to integrate more data from other countries. Researchers should also focus on addressing the issues of patient overlaps, small sample size, and bias. KEY TAKEAWAY Overall, this study suggests that WBC, platelet, and lymphocyte counts, as well as IL-6 and serum ferritin levels, be used to determine whether COVID-19 infection is progressing to a severe or fatal stage in hospitalised patients. Such predictors can assist health practitioners to identify risk groups and judiciously allocate the necessary care and resources.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Hematologic, biochemical and immune biomarker abnormalities associated with severe illness and mortality in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): a meta-analysis, Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM), April 2020, De Gruyter,
DOI: 10.1515/cclm-2020-0369.
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