Predict COVID-19 disease course based on blood count

Predict COVID-19 disease course based on blood count

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Charité study: Recognize the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection from the blood picture

The blood count of COVID-19 sufferers who are slightly ill, according to a current German study, differs significantly from the blood count of seriously ill people. The blood profiles could make it easier for medical professionals to decide on the type of treatment in the future.

Researchers at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Francis Crick Institute have identified 27 proteins in the blood of COVID-19 sufferers that enable the prognosis of the disease to be predicted. The research results were recently presented in the renowned journal "Cell Systems".

COVID-19 has different faces

The course of a COVID-19 disease can vary greatly from person to person. While some people do not even notice a SARS-CoV-2 infection, most people only develop mild illnesses. Some sufferers experience severe to life-threatening courses that require intensive medical treatment.

Determine the severity of the disease using biomarkers

There are currently no reliable forecasts for assessing the course of the disease. The researchers therefore looked for biological characteristics, so-called biomarkers, that allow such a prediction. With the latest analysis methods, the research team was able to identify the largest known number of biomarkers in the blood plasma of COVID-19 patients that are related to the severity of the disease.

Proteins could reliably predict the course of the disease

The team analyzed the blood plasma of 31 COVID-19 sufferers with different symptoms. The 27 proteins determined in this way were then tested on a group of 17 COVID-19 sufferers and 15 healthy participants. In all cases, the signature of the proteins matched the actual course of the disease.

"These results lay the basis for two possible applications," explains research director Professor Dr. Markus Ralser. On the one hand, the method for predicting the COVID-19 disease prognosis can be used. "On the other hand, it makes sense to use our technology as a diagnostic test that gives clarity about the patient's condition in the hospital - regardless of how the patient describes his condition," said Ralser.

Decision making

This enables the treating physicians to estimate whether a person affected will develop severe symptoms or not, and how their lives can be saved, since it sooner emerges which patients will need intensive medical care.

COVID 19 sufferers often misjudge their condition

A common problem with COVID-19 diseases is that in many cases the response is too late, because those affected misjudge their state of health. "The patient's symptoms may appear to be better than his or her state of health - an objective assessment using a biomarker profile can be very valuable," emphasizes the research director. The study team will now test the procedure on a large number of patients in order to refine the diagnostic test. (vb)

Also read: Coronavirus spread: nose determines COVID-19 disease courses.

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin: Can the course of COVID-19 be predicted from the blood? (published: 04.06.2020),
  • Christoph B. Messner, Vadim Demichev, Daniel Wendisch, u.a .: Ultra-high-throughput clinical proteomics reveals classifiers of COVID-19 infection,

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