Muscat – A new research by an infectious diseases expert has helped to recognise COVID-19 patients whose condition might deteriorate earlier, by performing special blood tests and inflammatory markers that reflect the immune response to fight the virus.
“Knowing these markers and which ones to use to predict patients’ deterioration and disease progression can be used to prevent further deterioration by implementing early interventions while managing these cases. This reduces the load on intensive care units and might even prevent death,” said Dr Asma al Balushi, specialist in infectious diseases, who undertook the study as part of her fellowship training programme at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, UK in collaboration with a research team in Oman.
The findings of the study can also help specialists in formalising the guidelines for doctors taking care of COVID-19 patients and thus unnecessary tests can be removed from the guidelines and rationalise spending, Dr Asma stated in the research.
The research – ‘Detection of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Oman using ELISA test. Why do some patients develop severe illness while others do not?’ – is part of the COVID-19 Research Programme of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MoHERI).
The research aimed to detect early asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic contacts of COVID-19 cases by using the antibody test called ‘ELISA’ in addition to the accredited PCR test through nasal and throat swabs.
The research team also collected blood samples from confirmed mild cases who did not require admission to hospitals and compared them to those with more severe illness of cases admitted to the hospitals. Different inflammatory markers were studied to know which markers are correlated with disease severity in COVID-19 patients. Genetic testing of human genome, especially ACE-2 genome, was also performed.
According to Dr Asma, the most important findings of this research project is that ELISA test and PCR testing can be used to detect those who are affected by the coronavirus without the appearance of any symptoms in them. Some of these patients had the symptoms appear after two or three days of testing and some remained asymptomatic.
The research was conducted in collaboration with MoHERI, Ministry of Health, The Royal Hospital, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, the Royal Liverpool University Hospital in the UK, the Central Public Health Laboratories and the National Genetic Centre in Oman.