Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Irish researchers say they have developed a scoring system that can accurately predict which patients will suffer from severe COVID-19, they announced Wednesday.
Researchers at Royal College of Surgeons Ireland University of Medicine and Health Sciences reported the findings in EBioMedicine.
The scoring system, called the Dublin-Boston score, is designed to enable clinicians to make more informed decisions when identifying patients who may benefit from steroids and other treatments after being infected.
The Dublin-Boston score can accurately predict how severe the infection will be on day seven after measuring the patient's blood for the first four days, the researchers said.
"The score is easily calculated and can be applied to all hospitalized COVID-19 patients," study co-author Dr. Gerry McElvaney said in a statement.
"More informed prognosis could help determine when to escalate or de-escalate care, a key component of the efficient allocation of resources during the current pandemic," said McElvaney, a consultant at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and a professor of medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland.
Developed in conjunction with researchers at Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, the scoring system works by checking patients' blood for levels of two molecules that "send messages" to the body's immune system and help it control inflammation.
One of these molecules, interleukin-6, is pro-inflammatory, and the other, interleukin-10, is anti-inflammatory -- and the levels of both are altered in severe COVID-19 patients.
Based on changes in the ratio of these two molecules over time, the researchers developed a point system in which each one-point increase is associated with a 5.6-fold increased risk for serious illness, the researchers said.
"The score may also have a role in evaluating whether new therapies designed to decrease inflammation in COVID-19 actually provide benefit," McElvaney said.