Researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Dublin, and at Harvard University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, have developed a scoring system, the Dublin-Boston score, to predict which patients are most likely to have severe COVID-19. Their findings are reported in EBioMedicine.
The system measures the patient’s blood for the first four days after infection to predict how severe COVID-19 will be by the 7th day. Study coauthor Dr. Gerry McElvaney says the easy-to-calculate score will be useful to track the disease hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Dr. McElvaney is a consultant at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, and a professor of medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland.
Under the Dublin-Boston scoring system, healthcare workers check a patient’s blood for levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-10 (IL-10), molecules that help the immune system control inflammation. IL-6 causes inflammation. IL-10 is anti-inflammatory. In COVID-19 patients, levels of each become increasingly abnormal as an infection becomes more severe.
The scoring system is based on changes in the ratio of the two molecules. Each one-point increase is associated with a 5.6-fold increased risk of getting sicker with the new coronavirus. According to Dr. McElvaney, the score could be used to see whether new therapies meant to decrease inflammation in COVID-19 are actually working.
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