(Helen Albert/ Forbes) — One of the problems with Covid-19 is that while many people have mild-to-moderate symptoms and recover at home, a small percentage of infections lead to severe illness and death. Predicting who will become seriously ill is vital to ensure patients get the best treatment and have the best chance of recovery.
A group of researchers based at the Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered that a standard blood test that measures the amount of variation in red blood cell volume and size can predict whether someone admitted to hospital with Covid-19 is likely to die from their illness.
The team found that patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus who had higher than normal levels on this test – known as the red cell distribution width, or RDW test – on admission to hospital were almost three times more likely to die than those with a normal blood test.
Notably, the researchers corrected for other risk factors for a poor outcome from Covid-19, such as older age, but they found that the increased risk linked with high RDW levels was significant all the patients. (…)