Importance There is a need to develop tools to differentiate COVID-19 from bacterial pneumonia at the time of clinical presentation before diagnostic testing is available.
Objective To determine if the Ferritin-to-Procalcitonin ratio (F/P) can be used to differentiate COVID-19 from bacterial pneumonia.
Design This case-control study compared patients with either COVID-19 or bacterial pneumonia, admitted between March 1 and May 31, 2020. Patients with COVID-19 and bacterial pneumonia co-infection were excluded.
Setting A multicenter study conducted at three hospitals that included UCHealth and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in the United States, and Yichang Central People’s Hospital in China.
Participants A total of 242 cases with COVID-19 infection and 34 controls with bacterial pneumonia.
Main Outcomes and Measures The F/P in patients with COVID-19 or with bacterial pneumonia were compared. Receiver operating characteristic analysis determined the sensitivity and specificity of various cut-off F/P values for the diagnosis of COVID-19 versus bacterial pneumonia.
Results Patients with COVID-19 pneumonia had a lower mean age (57.11 vs 64.4 years, p=0.02) and a higher BMI (30.74 vs 27.15 kg/m2, p=0.02) compared to patients with bacterial pneumonia. Cases and controls had a similar proportion of women (47% vs 53%, p=0.5) and COVID-19 patients had a higher prevalence of diabetes mellitus (32.6% vs 12%, p=0.01). The median F/P was significantly higher in patients with COVID-19 (4037.5) compared to the F/P in bacterial pneumonia (802, p<0.001). An F/P ≥ 877 used to diagnose COVID-19 resulted in a sensitivity of 85% and a specificity of 56%, with a positive predictive value of 93.2%, and a likelihood ratio of 1.92. In multivariable analyses, an F/P ≥ 877 was associated with greater odds of identifying a COVID-19 case (OR: 11.27, CI: 4-31.2, p<0.001).
Conclusions and Relevance An F/P ≥ 877 increases the likelihood of COVID-19 pneumonia compared to bacterial pneumonia. Further research is needed to determine if obtaining ferritin and procalcitonin simultaneously at the time of clinical presentation has improved diagnostic value. Additional questions include whether an increased F/P and/or serial F/P associates with COVID-19 disease severity or outcomes.
Competing Interest Statement
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