Laboratory findings of COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis

The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic first broke out in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has now spread worldwide. Laboratory findings have been only partially described in some observational studies. To date, more comprehensive systematic reviews of laboratory findings on COVID-19 are missing. We performed a systematic review with a meta-analysis to assess laboratory findings in patients with COVID-19. Observational studies from three databases were selected. We calculated pooled proportions and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) using the random-effects model meta-analysis. A total of 1106 articles were identified from PubMed, Web of Science, CNKI (China), and other sources. After screening, 28 and 7 studies were selected for a systematic review and a meta-analysis, respectively. Of the 4,663 patients included, the most prevalent laboratory finding was increased C-reactive protein (CRP; 73.6%, 95% CI 65.0–81.3%), followed by decreased albumin (62.9%, 95% CI 28.3–91.2%), increased erythrocyte sedimentation rate (61.2%, 95% CI 41.3–81.0%), decreased eosinophils (58.4%, 95% CI 46.5–69.8%), increased interleukin-6 (53.1%, 95% CI 36.0–70.0%), lymphopenia (47.9%, 95% CI 41.6–54.9%), and increased lactate dehydrogenase (LDH; 46.2%, 95% CI 37.9–54.7%). A meta-analysis of seven studies with 1905 patients showed that increased CRP (OR 3.0, 95% CI: 2.1–4.4), lymphopenia (OR 4.5, 95% CI: 3.3–6.0), and increased LDH (OR 6.7, 95% CI: 2.4–18.9) were significantly associated with severity. These results demonstrated that more attention is warranted when interpreting laboratory findings in patients with COVID-19. Patients with elevated CRP levels, lymphopenia, or elevated LDH require proper management and, if necessary, transfer to the intensive care unit.