A Luxembourgish cohort study shows encouraging participation rates and sees its protocol published in an international peer-reviewed journal.

“Predi-COVID1” is a cohort study promoted by the Luxembourg Institute of Health, aiming to identify key risk factors and biomarkers associated with COVID-19 severity.

In an effort geared toward comprehending the long-term health consequences of the disease, Predi-COVID aims to contribute to a better understanding of the heterogeneity observed in disease severity and prognosis.

It has been a necessary element of the study to present an accurate evaluation of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 and therefore provide more personalised care recommendations.

The study was published on 24 November in the ‘British Medical Journal Open’ and aims to identify the clinical, epidemiological and socio-demographic characteristics, as well as specific biomarkers from both the SARS CoV-2 virus and the patient, which can help predict the way the disease will evolve in a given individual.

The research team established a cohort of people over the age of 18 positive for SARS CoV-2. All newly diagnosed individuals in Luxembourg can participate in Predi-COVID, upon agreeing to share their data for research purposes.

Note: The team will be in contact with positively diagnosed individuals; they should refrain from calling the institute to volunteer.

Transmission Study

In parallel to Predi-COVID, the ancillary study “Predi-COVID-H” was launched to include household members of COVID-19 positive participants to study the transmission of the virus in this high-risk population.

The recruitment and data/sample collection phase started on May 5th and was initially planned to last until December 2020, although an extension period until late June 2021 is being requested.

The health evolution and symptoms of the enrolled patients are followed daily through different remote digital tools, depending on whether patients are at home or at the hospital, for 14 days from the time of confirmation of diagnosis.

More detailed clinical and digital data and associated biological samples is therefore gathered from a subset of at least 200 volunteers from the Predi-COVID cohort and from 100 Predi-COVID-H participants, in order to better characterise symptoms and clearly define the different outcomes.

Upon inclusion in the study and after a period of three weeks, several biological samples — including blood, nasal and oral swabs, saliva and stool — are collected from participants to identify human and viral predictive markers.

Means and symptoms

Since May 5th – the date of enrolment of the first participant – and as of November 10th, 1406 and 67 eligible subjects have been contacted by phone for inclusion in Predi-COVID and in Predi-COVID-H, respectively, 556 of which agreed to be included in the former and 48 in the latter.

On average, participants are 39 years old. In terms of biological samples, the team has been establishing a unique biobank to study COVID-19, already boasting 627 specimens collected during the baseline and follow-up visits. This collection includes blood, sputum, swabs, stool and hair samples.

The preliminary findings also indicate that the majority of the enrolled population experienced few or mild symptoms. The most prevalent symptoms at admission included fever (26.2% of participants), cough (23.3%), runny nose (12.2%) and sore throat (10.8%), while the most common comorbidities and risk factors include smoking (18.1% of participants), asthma (5.4%), diabetes (4.7%), chronic heart disease (3.6%) and obesity (3.3%).

“We are delighted with the results obtained thus far. We would like to encourage all individuals who recently tested positive for COVID-19 to take part in the study, since the greater the number of participants the more accurate the final results. Besides, we are now collaborating with the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg to envisage the inclusion of up to 100 COVID-19 positive children in Predi-COVID and up to 30 children from affected households in Predi-COVID-H”, states Prof Markus Ollert, Director of the LIH Department of Infection and Immunity and co-Principal Investigator of Predi-COVID.

Full details of the study can be found here.