New Test Can Tell If You’re High Risk for Severe Covid

Covid, Covid-19, Covid 19, Severe Covid, immune cells, death, fatality, hospitalisation, risk factor, test, trial, research, University of Virginia.

A new test developed by a team of researchers from the University of Virginia in the US can reportedly identify if a person is likely to develop severe Covid-19.

The researchers used data from 100 previous patients and gave the genome-based blood test to two dozen patients in intensive care to assess the new test’s accuracy. The results showed that the test was more than 90% accurate at predicting who would contract severe Covid-19 with an increased risk of death.

The test works by analyzing a patient’s genes to identify a distinct immune cell signature, one that has marked differences to that of other non-Covid respiratory illnesses. Researchers believe this immune cell signature is a hallmark of a lower innate immune response, which fails to control inflammation. People who don’t have the immune cell signature appear to have more success with viral clearance and inflammation control than those who do.

Head researcher, Alexandra Kadl, MD, said the test could be a highly valuable tool for medical practitioners to identify which patients are most vulnerable and in need of quick and tailored treatments after contracting Covid-19.

“This knowledge has the potential to help evaluate patients’ immune profile with commonly, readily available assays to identify patients at risk for bad outcomes who would benefit from closer monitoring and advanced therapies to aid their recovery,” Dr Kadl said,

Researchers are currently working to bring the test to market as a simple PCR-test and are hoping it will reduce hospitalisations and save lives.

Currently the accepted high risk factors for severe Covid-19 include:

  • Advanced age
  • Gender – males are more susceptible
  • Obesity
  • Pre-existing diabetes
  • Amount of viral load
  • Co-morbidities.

However these high risk factors have limited usefulness as numerous fit, young people with no pre-existing health issues have succumbed and died from severe Covid-19. It is hoped The University of Virginia study may be a start to answering why this happens.

According to the researchers:

“The work highlights the heterogeneity among severe cases of COVID-19 and the need for better characterization of hospitalized individuals to determine effective strategies to mitigate pathogenic immune processes that are dysregulated in the most at-risk patients.”

“Furthermore, infected individuals with the potential to progress to severe disease should be identified as early as possible to allow for better resource allocation and early individualized therapies.”

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