Scientists from George Washington University in Washington, DC, studied five different characteristics of patients’ blood to see whether there was a link between these and the seriousness of the infection. These blood properties are called biomarkers, and they can give doctors insight into what is happening elsewhere in the body.

During the study, the GWU scientists found a link between these five biomarkers and an increased risk from COVID-19.

It suggests a blood test could be used by doctors to determine which patients require more intensive treatments for coronavirus.

Shant Ayanian, first author of the study, said: “We hope these biomarkers help physicians determine how aggressively they need to treat patients, whether a patient should be discharged, and how to monitor patients who are going home, among other clinical decisions.”

The study looked at 299 patients. 200 of these had all of the biomarkers the scientists wanted to observe.

The biomarkers observed were called IL-6, D-dimer, CRP, LDH and ferritin.

When an increased amount of these biomarkers are found in the blood, it suggests inflammation or a bleeding disorder and an increased risk of being admitted to intensive care.

At the moment, doctors try to determine how likely someone is to be severely affected by COVID-19 based on factors such as age, obesity, or other health conditions.

George Washington University said “a simple blood test” for patients could help inform decisions on how to treat patients with COVID-19.

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It could also help hospitals more efficiently allocate resources between patients.

The researchers involved in the study will continue to observe their data.

The study, titled ‘The association between biomarkers and clinical outcomes in novel coronavirus pneumonia in a US cohort’ is published in Future Medicine.

The study authors write: “Our retrospective study did identify an association between biomarkers and clinical deterioration as well as death.

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“Elevated levels of IL-6, D-dimer, CRP, LDH and ferritin all had an independent increased risk for the clinical outcomes assessed (ICU admission, invasive ventilatory support and death), which were statistically significant.

“Specifically, in our cohort, these biomarkers remained statistically significant in patients with hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

“Of further significance is that our cohort of COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospitalist service revealed that the highest odds of death occurred when the LDH level was greater than 1200 units/l and a D-dimer level was greater than 3 μg/ml.

“Though more modest, all other biomarkers including IL-6, ferritin and CRP also carried a statistically significant increase in odds of death.

“Further study on the timing and frequency of measuring inflammatory biomarkers, and the value of trending them as it relates to clinical outcomes, is clearly warranted.”

Worldwide, there have been 20,330,351 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 742,413 deaths.

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