Thousands of people worldwide are still dying each day from the effects of COVID-19. It would be crucial for attending physicians if they knew at an early stage who is at great risk and who isn’t. Old age and obesity are major risk factors, yet they’re not exactly accurate medical indications. In a way, it remains a mystery as to why one patient ends up in intensive care when another doesn’t.

The university medical center in Göttingen (Universitätsmedizin Göttingen, UMG), Germany has now developed a treatment procedure to identify and treat people with severe COVID-19 illnesses early on. All it takes is a basic urine test.

Kidneys among the first organs affected

According to UMG, urine tests can be used to identify high-risk patients. That’s even before they develop serious lung problems or experience damage to other organs. The kidneys appear to be one of the first organs that are affected by the coronavirus.

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    One of the lead doctors, Professor Oliver Gross

    The UMG scientists published their findings this week in the science journal The Lancet. The new procedure has been tested in various German university hospitals since April the 24th. Information is shared with universities abroad as well. The researchers believe that their findings are also supported by pathological research on deceased patients.

    The procedure is comprised of a few steps. First, urine is examined for any signs of inflammation. Next, they look at the amount of albumin (an important protein molecule) in the blood and urine and for the presence of the antithrombin molecule. These three parameters together provide doctors with enough information about the risks that a patient is exposed to.

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    About the author

    Author profile picture Maurits Kuypers graduated as a macroeconomist from the University of Amsterdam, specialising in international work. He has been active as a journalist since 1997, first for 10 years on the editorial staff of Het Financieele Dagblad in Amsterdam, then as a freelance correspondent in Berlin and Central Europe. When it comes to technological innovations, he always has an eye for the financial feasibility of a project.