Pre-pandemic data show coronaviruses lead to more serious outcomes than influenza
Observational data indicate that common coronaviruses are associated with worse outcomes among patients compared with influenza, according to a study that excluded SARS-CoV-2.
“We designed this study at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Michael N. Cantor, MD, head of clinical informatics at Regeneron Genetics Center, told Healio. “We thought that understanding the clinical behavior of common coronaviruses — 229E, HKU1, NL63 and OC43 — may give some insight into SARS-COV-2.”
To help better understand the potential impact of common coronaviruses, Cantor and colleagues compared outcomes among inpatients and outpatients infected with either coronavirus or influenza before the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the study, the researchers used de-identified electronic health record data to compare patients with confirmed positive reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) tests from June 2016 to February 2019.
In total, 52,833 patients were tested for coronaviruses and influenza. Among a patient population 21 years of age and older, 1,555 and 3,991 patients had confirmed positive coronavirus and influenza tests, respectively. According to the study, both groups had similar ICU admission rates 7.2% and 6.1%, respectively although patients with coronavirus had significantly higher rates of pneumonia (15% vs. 7.4%) and a higher MORTALITY rate within 30 days of testing (4.9% vs. 3%).
“For sicker patients with suspected viral infections, confirming the viral cause of the infection with RT-PCR can be clinically important and impact treatment approach,” Cantor said. “First, because it helps with stewardship of medications for influenza, and second, because it can alert clinicians to the possible higher risk of complications based on whether the infection is influenza or a common coronavirus.”