Identifying patients at increased risk for severe COVID-19 is of high priority during the pandemic as it could affect clinical management and shape public health guidelines. In this study we assessed whether a second PCR test conducted 2-7 days after a SARS-CoV-2 positive test could identify patients at risk for severe illness. Analysis of a nationwide electronic health records data of 1,683 SARS-CoV-2 positive individuals indicated that a second negative PCR test result was associated with lower risk for severe illness compared to a positive result.
This association was seen across different age groups and clinical settings. More importantly, it was not limited to recovering patients but also observed in patients who still had evidence of COVID-19 as determined by a subsequent positive PCR test. Our study suggests that an early second PCR test may be used as an additional risk-assessment tool to improve disease management and patient care.