Will you get severe COVID-19? This blood test can tell

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In a new study, researchers found that a full blood count of COVID-19 patients predicts fairly accurately whether the infection will have a complicated course or not.

This makes it easier for healthcare providers to estimate the expected clinical picture.

The research was conducted by a team at Radboud University Medical Center.

In patients presenting to hospitals with a COVID-19 infection, full blood count analysis (hemocytometry) is commonly performed at the emergency department and during hospitalization.

COVID-19 is accompanied by specific changes in the circulating blood cells that are analyzed by a full blood count.

These changes in the blood cells, especially those that can be identified using new techniques, are used to create an algorithm with a predictive value.

The developed algorithm appears to predict the course of COVID-19 better than the value of the individual blood cells, as used so far. The reliability increases to 93% after six days.

In the study, the team used data generated by full blood count measurements.

They wanted to know whether it is possible to predict whether a hospitalized COVID-19 patient will become seriously ill and needs treatment at the Intensive Care.

For this purpose, they examined the data of 982 adult patients in eleven different hospitals across Europe.

And this turned out to be possible: specific changes in the circulating blood cells of COVID-19 patients proved to be of use as indicators of whether a serious course of events was expected.

New laboratory techniques make it possible to detect whether immune cells in the blood are activated and it turned out that especially these activated cells were more present in COVID-19 patients with a severe course, including during the early course of the disease.

In a second study population, the researchers were able to confirm the value of the prognostic score.

The team says a full blood count is a fully automated, inexpensive, immediately available measurement and one of the most requested laboratory determinations in the world.

Full blood count measurements are also routinely requested by COVID-19 patients who present to the hospital.

By using certain techniques, the character of certain blood cells can be better determined and by using these new techniques, doctors can develop a reliable prognostic score.

This score gives a good insight into whether a serious course of events can be expected and can help doctors to make treatment decisions.

One author of the study is André van der Ven.

The study is published in the scientific journal eLife.

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