BACKGROUND: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is a worldwide challenge. The CRIT-CoV-U pilot study generated a urinary proteomic biomarker consisting of 50 peptides (COV50), which predicted death and disease progression from SARS-CoV-2. After the interim analysis presented for the German Government, here, we aimed to analyse the full dataset to consolidate the findings and propose potential clinical applications of this biomarker.
METHODS: CRIT-CoV-U was a prospective multicentre cohort study. In eight European countries (Austria, France, Germany, Greece, North Macedonia, Poland, Spain, and Sweden), 1012 adults with PCR-confirmed COVID-19 were followed up for death and progression along the 8-point WHO scale. Capillary electrophoresis coupled with mass spectrometry was used for urinary proteomic profiling. Statistical methods included logistic regression and receiver operating characteristic curve analysis with a comparison of the area under curve (AUC) between nested models. Hospitalisation costs were derived from the care facility corresponding with the Markov chain probability of reaching WHO scores ranging from 3 to 8 and flat-rate hospitalisation costs adjusted for the gross per capita domestic product of each country.
FINDINGS: From June 30 to Nov 19, 2020, 228 participants were recruited, and from April 30, 2020, to April 14, 2021, 784 participants were recruited, resulting in a total of 1012 participants. The entry WHO scores were 1-3 in 445 (44%) participants, 4-5 in 529 (52%) participants, and 6 in 38 (4%) participants; and of all participants, 119 died and 271 had disease progression. The odds ratio (OR) associated with COV50 in all 1012 participants for death was 2·44 (95% CI 2·05-2·92) unadjusted and 1·67 (1·34-2·07) when adjusted for sex, age, BMI, comorbidities, and baseline WHO score; and for disease progression, the OR was 1·79 (1·60-2·01) when unadjusted and 1·63 (1·41-1·91) when adjusted (p<0·0001 for all). The predictive accuracy of the optimised COV50 thresholds was 74·4% (71·6-77·1%) for mortality (threshold 0·47) and 67·4% (64·4-70·3%) for disease progression (threshold 0·04). When adjusted for covariables and the baseline WHO score, these thresholds improved AUCs from 0·835 to 0·853 (p=0·033) for death and from 0·697 to 0·730 (p=0·0008) for progression. Of 196 participants who received ambulatory care, 194 (99%) did not reach the 0·04 threshold. The cost reductions associated with 1 day less hospitalisation per 1000 participants were million Euro (M€) 0·887 (5-95% percentile interval 0·730-1·039) in participants at a low risk (COV50 <0·04) and M€2·098 (1·839-2·365) in participants at a high risk (COV50 ≥0·04).
INTERPRETATION: The urinary proteomic COV50 marker might be predictive of adverse COVID-19 outcomes. Even in people with mild-to-moderate PCR-confirmed infections (WHO scores 1-4), the 0·04 COV50 threshold justifies earlier drug treatment, thereby potentially reducing the number of days in hospital and associated costs.
FUNDING: German Federal Ministry of Health.