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New research: Test predicts who is likely to be infected with severe Covid-19

The new test is more likely to identify severe cases of Covid-19, but also has a higher rate of false positives.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: July 26, 2021 10:32:46 am
Health workers conduct Covid-19 tests at a housing society in Mumbai. (Express Photo: Amit Chakravarty, File)

Researchers have developed a blood test to predict which people infected with Covid-19 are most likely to experience serious symptoms, which could help health care workers prioritise patients for hospitalisation and intensive care.

The study has been published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Analytical Chemistry.

To measure changes in blood biochemistry that occur with severe Covid-19, the researchers chose a technique called attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR), which has been tested previously as a Covid-19 diagnostic tool.

Two regions of FTIR spectra from 128 patient plasma samples showed small but observable differences between those with severe and non-severe Covid-19.

Using these data together with clinical information about patients, the researchers developed a statistical model to predict Covid-19 severity. They found that the best predictor was whether the patient had diabetes, followed by the two regions in the FTIR spectra.

Adding the FTIR data to the model improved the sensitivity for detecting severe disease in a different set of 30 patients from 41.2% to 94.1%, it reduced the specificity from 84.6% to 69.2%, compared with the clinical factors alone.

This means that the new test was more likely to identify severe cases, but it also had a higher rate of false positives.

Source: American Chemical Society

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