Effective prognostic and clinical risk stratification in COVID-19 using multimodality biomarkers

Alexander Liu, Robert Hammond, Peter D Donnelly, Juan Carlos Kaski, Anthony RM Coates*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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In acute coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) patients, effective clinical risk stratification has important implications on treatment and therapeutic resource distribution. This article reviews the evidence behind a wide range of biomarkers with prognostic value in COVID-19. Patient characteristics and co-morbidities, such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, are associated with increased mortality risk. Peripheral oxygen saturation and arterial oxygenation are predictive of severe respiratory compromise, whereas risk scores such as the 4C-score enable multi-factorial prognostic risk estimation. Blood tests such as markers of inflammation, cardiac injury and d-dimer and abnormalities on electrocardiogram are linked to inpatient prognosis. Of the imaging modalities, lung ultrasound and echocardiography enable the bedside assessment of prognostic abnormalities in COVID-19. Chest radiograph (CXR) and computed tomography (CT) can inform about prognostic pulmonary pathologies, whereas cardiovascular CT detects high-risk features such as coronary artery and aortic calcification. Dynamic changes in biomarkers, such as blood tests, CXR, CT and electrocardiogram findings, can further inform about disease severity and prognosis. Despite the vast volumes of existing evidence, several gaps exist in our understanding of COVID-19 biomarkers. First, the pathophysiological basis on which these markers can foretell prognosis in COVID-19 remains poorly understood. Second, certain under-explored tests such as thoracic impedance assessment and cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging deserve further investigation. Lastly, the prognostic values of most biomarkers in COVID-19 are derived from retrospective analyses. Prospective studies are required to validate these markers for guiding clinical decision-making and to facilitate their translation into clinical management pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-46
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Internal Medicine
Issue number1
Early online date7 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • Biomarker
  • Clinical outcomes
  • COVID-19
  • Diagnostic performance
  • Prognosis
  • Risk stratification


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