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New blood test predicts which COVID-19 patients at severe risk

IANS Oct 17, 2020

In the fight against novel coronavirus, scientists have developed a score that can accurately predict which patients will develop a severe form of COVID-19.

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The measurement, called the Dublin-Boston score, is designed to enable clinicians to make more informed decisions when identifying patients who may benefit from therapies, such as steroids, and admission to intensive care units. Until this study, no COVID-19-specific prognostic scores were available to guide clinical decision-making. According to the findings, published in the journal EBioMedicine, the Dublin-Boston score can now accurately predict how severe the infection will be on Day 7 after measuring the patient's blood for the first four days. "The Dublin-Boston score is easily calculated and can be applied to all hospitalised COVID-19 patients," said study author Gerry McElvaney from the RCSI University in Ireland.

The blood test works by measuring the levels of two molecules that send messages to the body's immune system and control inflammation. One of these molecules, interleukin (IL)-6, is pro-inflammatory, and a different one, called IL-10, is anti-inflammatory. The levels of both are altered in severe COVID-19 patients. Based on the changes in the ratio of these two molecules over time, the researchers developed a point system where each 1-point increase was associated with 5.6 times increased odds for a more severe outcome.

"More informed prognosis could help determine when to escalate or de-escalate care, a key component of the efficient allocation of resources during the current pandemic," McElvaney said. "The score may also have a role in evaluating whether new therapies designed to decrease inflammation in COVID-19 actually provide benefit," McElvaney added.

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