When it first became apparent there is a wide range in how severely patients are affected by COVID-19, there seemed little rhyme or reason, aside from existing clinical characteristics, as to why one patient fared worse than another—or how a patient’s likelihood of developing severe disease could be predicted. Now a study just published in Critical Care suggests that predicting disease progression can be aided by looking at sputum viral load. The research, out of First Affiliated Hospital in Hangzhou, China, compared the baseline viral loads between 30 patients with severe COVID-19 and 62 patients with mild-to-moderate disease who were admitted from January 19, 2020, to March 19, 2020. Patients who went on to have severe disease had significantly lower cycle threshold (Ct) values than patients with mild-to-moderate cases at admission (25 vs 28). Of patients who presented with mild-to-moderate disease, 11 became severe during hospitalization; higher viral load was observed in sputum specimens from those patients compared with those who did not become severely ill during hospitalization (24 vs 29).
Another Clue in Predicting COVID-19 Progression—Based on Initial Testing