Blood tests could determine odds of critically ill Covid patients surviving

Blood tests could determine odds of critically ill Covid patients surviving battle with disease, doctors say

  • German scientists analysed the blood of 50 critically ill Covid patients
  • They found 14 proteins where they could indicate how at risk someone was
  • Researchers said the test could help doctors determine which patients to treat 

Doctors could one day be able to determine the survival odds of critically ill Covid patients through a simple blood test. 

German and Austrian scientists analysed blood samples of 50 hospitalised patients. They found 14 proteins — mostly linked to inflammation and blood clots — that were associated with an increased risk of death. 

Researchers then created an AI programme to predict the survival odds of patients, based solely on scouring the blood samples for levels of the proteins. 

Preliminary results showed the test was accurate.  

Academics said the test could help doctors find patients who were most in need of care so they can be prioritised. 

Intensive care ward in Strasbourg University, France, this year. Doctors say they have developed a blood test that could help spot which patients are most at risk from Covid

Disabling one protein on Covid could render it much less harmful, study says 

Disabling just one protein on Covid could make it much less harmful, scientists say.

Washington State University researchers said the virus uses NS2 to disable a cell’s defences allowing it to spark an infection.

But — they said — if this protein is removed then the cell can quickly destroy the invading virus.

Professor Kim Chiok, from the WSU who led the study, said NS2 was able to ‘disable’ a cell’s defences. 

She said other viruses besides Covid also use NS2.

These include the flu and RSV — which are both seasonal menaces. 

The participants were either admitted to intensive care at the Charite University Hospital of Berlin, or the Medical University Innsbruck in Austria.

Blood samples were taken from the all of the participants up to three times a week.

Of patients included in the study, 15 died around 28 days after they were admitted to hospital.

The remaining 35 survived, and were discharged from hospital after about two months.  

Patients were admitted during the first wave of the pandemic. 

Doctors involved in the study said the test needed to be evaluated on a larger sample size.

They added it could be used for critically ill patients suffering from other seasonal viruses besides Covid.

Co-author Professor Florian Kurth, from Charite University Hospital, Berlin, said: ‘The clinical picture of Covid is exceptionally diverse — ranging from asymptomatic to very serious disease and death.

‘For physicians, it is difficult to estimate the individual risk for a patient of deterioration or death.’

Currently intensive care units rely on the APACHE scoring system to detect the most unwell patients.

It is applied within 24 hours of admission to the specialist ward, and looks at factors including heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature and white blood cell count. 

It comes amid reams of studies showing Britain’s now dominant Covid variant Omicron is much milder than its predecessors.  

Britain’s hospitalisations have plateaued at half the levels of the previous wave — at about 2,000 admissions a day —  amid the current wave.

But critical care admissions have barely risen with reams of studies showing the variant is milder than its predecessors.

Scientists say it is likely new variants will emerge that are even milder than Omicron but more transmissible, allowing ministers to focus on ‘living with’ the virus.