Rapid screening of COVID-19 patients using white blood cell scattergrams, a study on 381 patients

Br J Haematol. 2020 Jun 15;10.1111/bjh.16943. doi: 10.1111/bjh.16943. Online ahead of print.


Complementary tools are warranted to increase the sensitivity of the initial testing for COVID-19. We identified a specific 'sandglass' aspect on the white blood cell scattergram of COVID-19 patients reflecting the presence of circulating plasmacytoid lymphocytes. Patients were dichotomized as COVID-19-positive or -negative based on reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and chest computed tomography (CT) scan results. Sensitivity and specificity of the 'sandglass' aspect were 85·9% and 83·5% respectively. The positive predictive value was 94·3%. Our findings provide a non-invasive and simple tool to quickly categorize symptomatic patients as either COVID-19-probable or -improbable especially when RT-PCR and/or chest CT are not rapidly available.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-Cov-2; coronavirus; plasmacytoid lymphocytes; white blood cells scattergram.