Clinical Features of COVID-19 and Factors Associated with Severe Clinical Course: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

SSRN. 2020 Apr 21;3566166. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.3566166. Preprint


Background: COVID-19 is a new disease which has become a global pandemic, and is caused by a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The disease is still not very well characterized, and factors associated with severe clinical course are not well known.

Methods: The main objectives were to determine the demographic, clinical and laboratory manifestations of COVID-19 and to identify the factors associated with severe clinical course. We searched the PubMed for studies published between Jan 1, 2020 and Mar 17, 2020, and included them if they were in English language, published in full, were retrospective or prospective observational or case control study with data on clinical, laboratory and imaging features of adult patients with COVID-19 disease from single or multiple centers. Studies that included exclusively pediatric patients were excluded. The demographic, clinical and laboratory data was displayed as n (%) or mean (SD). The meta-analysis on factors associated with severe clinical course was performed using the random effects model, and odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated as the effect sizes.

Findings: We included 58 studies (6892 patients) for the systematic review on clinical manifestations and 21 studies (3496 patients) for meta-analysis on factors associated with severe clinical course. The mean age of patients with COVID-19 is 49.7±16.3 years with a male to female ratio of 1.2:1. Common symptoms and their frequency are: fever (83.4%), cough (60.5%), fatigue (33.8%), sputum (28.9%), dyspnea (22.1%), myalgia (20.6%), chest tightness / pain (16.3%), sore throat (13.5%), headache (11.2%), diarhhea (7.5%), nasal congestion / rhinorrhea (6.7%), nausea / vomiting (5.6%), pain abdomen (4.6%), and hemoptysis (1.7%). The comorbidities associated with COVID-19 are: hypertension (18.4%), diabetes mellitus (9.8%), cardiovascular diseases (8.8%), endocrine diseases (5.8%), gastrointestinal diseases (5%), CLD (3%), and COPD (2.8%). Among the laboratory parameters WBC was low in 27%, high in 9%, platelets were low in 22.9%, creatinine was high in 6.5%, AST was high in 25.3%, ALT was high in 22.7%, bilirubin was high in 8.8%, albumin was low 60.1%, CT chest was abnormal in 89%, CRP was high in 67.5%, LDH was high in 52%, D-dimer was high in 34.8%, CK was high in 14.4%, and procalcitonin was high in 15.4%. Factors significantly associated severe clinical course (with their ORs) are as follows: High CRP (5.78), high procalcitonin (5.45), age >60 (4.82), dyspnea (4.66), high LDH (4.59), COPD (4.37), low albumin (4.34), high D-dimer (4.03), cardiac disease (3.88), low lymphocyte count (3.22), any associated comorbidity (3.16), diabetes mellitus (3.11), high WBC count (2.67), high bilirubin level (2.55), high creatinine (2.34), high AST (2.31), hypertension (2.30), low platelets (1.78), High ALT (1.69), high CK (1.66), fever spikes ≥39°C (1.59), diarrhea (1.55), male gender (1.47), and sputum (1.35).

Interpretation: Identification of these factors associated with severe COVID-19 will help the physicians working at all levels of healthcare (primary, secondary, tertiary and ICU) in determining which patients need home care, hospital care, HDU care, and ICU admission; and thus, prioritize the scarce healthcare resource use more judiciously. Many of these identified factors can also help the public at large in the current COVID-19 epidemic setting, to judge when they should seek immediate medical care. Funding Statement: None. Declaration of Interests: The authors declare no competing interests.

Keywords: 2019-nCoV; COVID-19; Novel coronavirus; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; nCoV-2019.

Publication types

  • Preprint