COVID is the hot topic of 2020. It seems that every single day, I read a new article or study about COVID-19. A few months ago, everyone was talking about how certain blood types may be more susceptible to complications from COVID. Then, last month, there was a study that vitamin D deficiency may lead to worse outcomes for those with COVID. Those studies have seemed to fall by the wayside.
So much new information is coming out every single day. This is what happens in a global pandemic. Scientists and doctors are rushing to find anything they can that would help us fight the virus. This inundation of information can also lead to misinformation. It’s important that we scrutinize what we read. It’s also important that we medical professionals realize the limitations of the studies we utilize to make clinical decisions.
A recent study lead by Dr. Michael Satlin of Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian concluded that higher COVID viral loads was associated with greater risk of mortality in hospitalized patients. “Our study showed that above and beyond just knowing whether a patient is infected with SARS-CoV-2, knowing how much virus is in the respiratory tract can be useful at identifying patients at high risk of a poor outcome when they are admitted to the hospital,” This information can be helpful in identifying patients who are at higher risk and who need closer monitoring and more aggressive therapy (i.e. remdesivir).
This study looked at hospitalized patients only, so they did not conclude if the same would apply to non-hospitalized patients.
More studies are needed to further assess the importance of COVID-19 viral levels as a prognostic indicator of mortality.
Jeremiah Robinson is a licensed and certified physician assistant in Atlanta, GA