Differences between COVID-19 and suspected then confirmed SARS-CoV-2-negative pneumonia: A retrospective study from a single center

J Med Virol. 2020 Sep;92(9):1572-1579. doi: 10.1002/jmv.25810. Epub 2020 Jun 12.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) broke out in Wuhan, Hubei, China in December 2019. Tens thousands of people have been infected with the disease. Our aim was to distinguish severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)-positive patients from SARS-CoV-2-negative patients. We retrospectively compared the data of COVID-19 patients with those of suspected and confirmed SARS-CoV-2-negative patients (control patients). There were 78 COVID-19 patients and 26 control patients, whose median ages were significantly different (P = .001). The percentage of COVID-19 patients admitting exposure to Wuhan was obviously higher than that of control patients (X2 = 29.130; P < .001). Fever and cough appeared more frequently in COVID-19 patients than in the control patients. The routine blood workup parameters of COVID-19 patients did not change much and their mean counts were in the normal range. There were 38.5% of control patients had higher procalcitonin (PCT) levels than 0.5 ng/mL, which was significantly higher than that percentage of COVID-19 patients (X2 = 22.636; P < .05), and COVID-19 patients were also more likely to have decreased or normal urea and creatinine levels than control patients (X2 = 24.930, 8.480; P < .05).Younger age, exposure to Wuhan, fever, cough, and slight changes in routine blood workup parameters, urea and creatinine were important features discriminating COVID-19 from control patients. Slightly increased, but far less than 0.5 ng/mL, PCT levels also differentiated COVID-19 patients from control patients.

Keywords: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); laboratory test; procalcitonin; suspected then confirmed SARS-CoV-2-negative pneumonia; symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers
  • COVID-19 / complications
  • COVID-19 / diagnosis*
  • COVID-19 / virology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Outcome Assessment
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / etiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Symptom Assessment
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers