As the novel Coronavirus has affected over 31 million people and claimed more than 976,000 lives globally, the healthcare providers are currently facing challenge to identify those COVID-19 patients who are at the maximum risk of severe illness or death. But now some researchers have found a solution.
A team of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have been going through hospital data on Coronavirus cases to find some way to help doctors to better assess those infected people who are under the risk of suffering the worst effects of the disease. The researchers analyzed the blood samples of the patients to find a solution.
They looked into the samples taken from 1,641 Coronavirus patients admitted to Boston hospitals earlier this year. The team wanted to study the blood samples to find out any particular molecular patterns that could show signs of the severity of the disease.
A Simple Blood Test
As per the study, which was published in the journal JAMA Network Open, the team first looked at biomarkers collected during the most routine blood tests. Jonathan Carlson, who co-authored the study said the team was surprised to find that "one simple test that quantifies the variation in size of red blood cells –known as red cell distribution width (RDW) – was highly correlated with patient mortality, and the correlation persisted when controlling for other identified risk factors like patient age, some other lab tests, and some pre-existing illnesses."
In most of the standard blood count tests, the RDW is very common. As per the researchers who conducted the new study found that patients who had an elevated RDW at the time of hospital admission, were 2.7 times more likely to die from the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Their finding also revealed that the increased RDW count was also more significantly associated with mortality in younger Coronavirus patients.
It was also noticed that COVID-19 patients whose RDW had increased during the hospitalization were more likely to face the worst outcome of the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Now, the researchers have suggested that RDW could be a useful biomarker to track the progress of a COVID-19 patient while admitted in a hospital.
This is not the first study of its kind, as in the past few months several studies have been published, exploring the biomarkers to identify patients, who are under the extreme risk of developing severe illness and death from the novel Coronavirus.
However, to get a conclusion about the link between RDW and the Coronavirus, more studies are required, but if confirmed, then the doctors around the world would get helpful details from a simple blood test and determine those who require more clinical care.