White blood cells scattergram as a valuable tool for COVID-19 screening: A multicentric study.

Publication date: Mar 04, 2024

New tools have been developed to distinguish the COVID-19 diagnosis from other viral infections presenting similar symptomatology and mitigate the lack of sensitivity of molecular testing. We previously identified a specific “sandglass” aspect on the white blood cells (WBC) scattergram of COVID-19 patients, as a highly reliable COVID-19 screening test (sensitivity: 85. 9%, specificity: 83. 5% and positive predictive value: 94. 3%). We then decided to validate our previous data in a multicentric study. This retrospective study involved 817 patients with flu-like illness, among 20 centers, using the same CBC instrument (XN analyzer, SYSMEX, Japan). After training, one specialist per center independently evaluated, under the same conditions, the presence of the “sandglass” aspect of the WDF scattergram, likely representing plasmacytoid lymphocytes. Overall, this approach showed sensitivity: 59. 0%, specificity: 72. 9% and positive predictive value: 77. 7%. Sensitivity improved with subgroup analysis, including in patients with lymphopenia (65. 2%), patients presenting symptoms for more than 5 days (72. 3%) and in patients with ARDS (70. 1%). COVID-19 patients with larger plasmacytoid lymphocyte cluster (>15 cells) more often have severe outcomes (70% vs. 15% in the control group). Our findings confirm that the WBC scattergram analysis could be added to a diagnostic algorithm for screening and quickly categorizing symptomatic patients as either COVID-19 probable or improbable, especially during COVID-19 resurgence and overlapping with future influenza epidemics. The observed large size of the plasmacytoid lymphocytes cluster appears to be a hallmark of COVID-19 patients and was indicative of a severe outcome. Furthers studies are ongoing to evaluate the value of the new hematological parameters in combination with WDF analysis.

Concepts Keywords
5days coronavirus
Hematological COVID-19
Japan plasmacytoid lymphocytes
Reliable SARS-Cov-2
Viral WBC scattergram


Type Source Name
disease IDO blood
disease MESH COVID-19
disease MESH viral infections
disease VO LACK
disease MESH lymphopenia
disease IDO algorithm
disease MESH influenza
disease MESH Long Covid

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