Open Forum Infect Dis. 2020 Jul 5;7(7):ofaa282. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofaa282. eCollection 2020 Jul.
BACKGROUND: The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has aroused global public health concerns. Multiple clinical features relating to host profile but not for virus have been identified as the risk factors for illness severity and/or the outcomes in COVID-19.
METHODS: The clinical features obtained from a cohort of 195 laboratory-confirmed, nasopharynx-sampled patients with COVID-19 in Guangdong, China from January 13 to February 29, 2020 were enrolled to this study. The differences in clinical features among 4 groups (mild, moderate, severe, and critical) and between 2 groups (severe vs nonsevere) were compared using one-way analysis of variance and Student's t test, respectively. Principal component analysis and correlation analysis were performed to identify the major factors that account for illness severity.
RESULTS: In addition to the previously described clinical illness severity-related factors, including older age, underlying diseases, higher level of C-reactive protein, D-dimer and aspartate aminotransferase, longer fever days and higher maximum body temperature, larger number of white blood cells and neutrophils but relative less lymphocytes, and higher ratio of neutrophil to lymphocytes, we found that the initial viral load is an independent factor that accounts for illness severity in COVID-19 patients.
CONCLUSIONS: The initial viral load of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is a novel virological predictor for illness severity of COVID-19.