• Vol. 50 No. 4, 325–335
  • 15 April 2021

Severe COVID-19 and coagulopathy: A systematic review and meta-analysis



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Introduction: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-induced coagulopathy (CIC) has been widely reported in the literature. However, the spectrum of abnormalities associated with CIC has been highly variable. Methods: We conducted a systematic review of the literature (until 1 June 2020) to assess CIC and disease severity during the early COVID-19 pandemic. Primary outcomes were pooled mean differences in platelet count, D-dimer level, prothrombin time, activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) and fibrinogen level between non-severe and severe patients, stratified by degree of hypoxaemia or those who died. The risk factors for CIC were analysed. Random-effects meta-analyses and meta-regression were performed using R version 3.6.1, and certainty of evidence was rated using the Grading of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach. Results: Of the included 5,243 adult COVID-19 patients, patients with severe COVID-19 had a significantly lower platelet count, and higher D-dimer level, prothrombin time and fibrinogen level than non-severe patients. Pooled mean differences in platelet count (-19.7×109 /L, 95% confidence interval [CI] -31.7 to -7.6), D-dimer level (0.8μg/mL, 95% CI 0.5–1.1), prothrombin time (0.4 second, 95% CI 0.2–0.6) and fibrinogen level (0.6g/L, 95% CI 0.3–0.8) were significant between the groups. Platelet count and D-dimer level were significant predictors of disease severity on meta-regression analysis. Older men had higher risks of severe coagulopathic disease. Conclusion: Significant variability in CIC exists between non-severe and severe patients, with platelet count and D-dimer level correlating with disease severity. Routine monitoring of all coagulation parameters may help to assess CIC and decide on the appropriate management.

Manifestations of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) span a wide clinical spectrum, from asymptomatic carriers to critical illness with a wide range of complications. Our understanding of the pathophysiology of the disease process is still evolving. As part of the host response to viraemia, it has been postulated that coagulopathy may play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of COVID-19.

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