Receive a weekly summary and discussion of the top papers of the week by leading researchers in the field.

In Scientific reports ; h5-index 158.0

Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is a key tool to diagnose Covid-19. Yet it may not be the most efficient test in all patients. In this paper, we develop a clinical strategy for prescribing RT-PCR to patients based on data from COVIDOM, a French cohort of 54,000 patients with clinically suspected Covid-19, including 12,810 patients tested by RT-PCR. We use a machine-learning algorithm (decision tree) in order to predict RT-PCR results based on the clinical presentation. We show that symptoms alone are sufficient to predict RT-PCR outcome with a mean average precision of 86%. We identify combinations of symptoms that are predictive of RT-PCR positivity (90% for anosmia/ageusia) or negativity (only 30% of RT-PCR+ for a subgroup with cardiopulmonary symptoms): in both cases, RT-PCR provides little added diagnostic value. We propose a prescribing strategy based on clinical presentation that can improve the global efficiency of RT-PCR testing.