Risk stratification of hospitalized COVID-19 patients through comparative studies of laboratory results with influenza

EClinicalMedicine. 2020 Jul 31;26:100475. doi: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2020.100475. eCollection 2020 Sep.


Background: The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in December 2019 overlaps with the flu season.

Methods: We compared clinical and laboratory results from 719 influenza and 973 COVID-19 patients from January to April 2020. We compiled laboratory results from the first 14 days of the hospitalized patients using parameters that are most significantly different between COVID-19 and influenza and hierarchically clustered COVID-19 patients.

Findings: Compared to influenza, patients with COVID-19 exhibited a continued increase in white blood cell count, rapid decline of hemoglobin, more rapid increase in blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and D-dimer, and higher level of alanine transaminase, C-reactive protein, ferritin, and fibrinogen. COVID-19 patients were sub-classified into 5 clusters through a hierarchical clustering analysis. Medical records were reviewed and patients were risk stratified based on the clinical outcomes. The cluster with the highest risk showed 27·8% fatality, 94% ICU admission, 94% intubation, and 28% discharge rates compared to 0%, 38%, 22%, and 88% in the lowest risk cluster, respectively. Patients in the highest risk cluster had leukocytosis including neutrophilia and monocytosis, severe anemia, increased red blood cell distribution width, higher BUN, creatinine, D-dimer, alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin, and troponin.

Interpretation: There are significant differences in the clinical and laboratory courses between COVID-19 and influenza. Risk stratification in hospitalized COVID-19 patients using laboratory data could be useful to predict clinical outcomes and pathophysiology of these patients.

Funding: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, Department of Defense, and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.