Health Report: Blood tests predict COVID-19 deaths

Health Reports

New, federal data reports the number of deaths in the U.S. caused by the Coronavirus toppled more than 770,000. More than doubling the first year the virus spread throughout the country.

But, what if a doctor could know if you are at a higher risk? Some researchers are working to save lives with a simple drop of blood.

“We came up with an analysis to try to distinguish the genes that can predict what are the patients who are going to progress and die from the disease,” said Dr. Jose Herazo-Maya, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

These patients tend to have very scarred lungs, triggering an immune reaction very similar to the same scarring seen in patients who have a lung disease called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF).

“If we could use the knowledge of IPF and apply it to COVID-19, to try to expedite the development of a good predictor test, or maybe even treatments, then that would’ve saved lives right in times and money too.” Dr. Maya said.

Using a simple blood test from IPF patients, pulmonologist Jose Herazo-Maya found 52 genes that predicted a patient’s mortality for COVID-19. 50 of those genes are matches. If there’s red at the top, that patient has a high mortality rate. The accuracy is 73%.

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“Basically, out of every four patients, you can’t predict mortality correctly in three. If you have a high-risk profile, that means that we have to be more aggressive with your care.” Dr. Maya said.

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