J Clin Med. 2021 Aug 6;10(16):3481. doi: 10.3390/jcm10163481.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is characterized by a distinctive blood leucocyte pattern and B-lines on lung ultrasound (LUS) as marker of alveolar-interstitial syndrome. We aimed to evaluate the accuracy of blood leucocyte count alone or in combination with LUS for COVID-19 diagnosis. We retrospectively enrolled consecutive patients diagnosed with community acquired pneumonia (CAP) at hospital admission to derive and validate cutoff values for blood cell count that could be predictive of COVID-19 before confirmation by the nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT). Cutoff values, generated and confirmed in inception (41/115, positive/negative patients) and validation (100/180, positive/negative patients) cohorts, were ≤17 and ≤10 cells/mm3 for basophils and eosinophils, respectively. Basophils and/or eosinophils below cutoff were associated with sensitivity of 98% (95%CI, 94-100) and negative likelihood ratio of 0.04 (95%CI, 0.01-0.11). In a subgroup of 265 subjects, the sensitivity of B-line on LUS was 15% lower (p < 0.001) than that of basophils and/or eosinophils below cutoff. The combination of B-lines with basophils and eosinophils below cutoff was associated with a moderate increase of the positive likelihood ratio: 5.0 (95%CI, 3.2-7.7). In conclusion, basophil and eosinophil counts above the generated cutoff virtually rule out COVID-19 in patients with CAP. Our findings can help optimize patient triage pending the NAAT results.