Pretest Symptom Duration and Cycle Threshold Values for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Reverse-Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction Predict Coronavirus Disease 2019 Mortality

Emily Happy Miller, Jason Zucker, Delivette Castor, Medini K. Annavajhala, Jorge L. Sepulveda, Daniel A. Green, Susan Whittier, Matthew Scherer, Nicola Medrano, Magdalena E. Sobieszczyk, Michael T. Yin, Louise Kuhn, Anne Catrin Uhlemann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The relationship between severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) viral load and patient symptom duration in both in- and outpatients, and the impact of these factors on patient outcomes, are currently unknown. Understanding these associations is important to clinicians caring for patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Methods: We conducted an observational study between March 10 and May 30, 2020 at a large quaternary academic medical center in New York City. Patient characteristics, laboratory values, and clinical outcomes were abstracted from the electronic medical records. Of all patients tested for SARS-CoV-2 during this time (N = 16 384), there were 5467 patients with positive tests, 4254 of which had available cycle threshold (Ct) values and were included in further analysis. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression models were used to test associations between Ct values, duration of symptoms before testing, patient characteristics, and mortality. The primary outcome is defined as death or discharge to hospice. Results: Lower Ct values at diagnosis (ie, higher viral load) were associated with significantly higher mortality among both in- and outpatients. It is interesting to note that patients with a shorter time since the onset of symptoms to testing had a worse prognosis, with those presenting less than 3 days from symptom onset having 2-fold increased odds of death. After adjusting for time since symptom onset and other clinical covariates, Ct values remained a strong predictor of mortality. Conclusions: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction Ct value and duration of symptoms are strongly associated with mortality. These 2 factors add useful information for clinicians to risk stratify patients presenting with COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberofab003
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • cycle threshold values
  • outcomes
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • symptom duration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology

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