Objective: To establish whether one can build a mortality prediction model for COVID-19 patients based solely on demographics and comorbidity data that outperforms age alone. Such a model could be a precursor to implementing smart lockdowns and vaccine distribution strategies.
Methods: The training cohort comprised 2337 COVID-19 inpatients from nine hospitals in The Netherlands. The clinical outcome was death within 21 days of being discharged. The features were derived from electronic health records collected during admission. Three feature selection methods were used: LASSO, univariate using a novel metric, and pairwise (age being half of each pair). 478 patients from Belgium were used to test the model. All modeling attempts were compared against an age-only model.
Results: In the training cohort, the mortality group's median age was 77 years (interquartile range = 70-83), higher than the non-mortality group (median = 65, IQR = 55-75). The incidence of former/active smokers, male gender, hypertension, diabetes, dementia, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic cardiac disease, chronic neurological disease, and chronic kidney disease was higher in the mortality group. All stated differences were statistically significant after Bonferroni correction. LASSO selected eight features, novel univariate chose five, and pairwise chose none. No model was able to surpass an age-only model in the external validation set, where age had an AUC of 0.85 and a balanced accuracy of 0.77.
Conclusion: When applied to an external validation set, we found that an age-only mortality model outperformed all modeling attempts (curated on www.covid19risk.ai) using three feature selection methods on 22 demographic and comorbid features.