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In Frontiers in molecular biosciences

Purpose: Computer-aided diagnostic methods were used to compare the characteristics of the Original COVID-19 and its Delta Variant. Methods: This was a retrospective study. A deep learning segmentation model was applied to segment lungs and infections in CT. Three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction was used to create 3D models of the patient's lungs and infections. A stereoscopic segmentation method was proposed, which can subdivide the 3D lung into five lobes and 18 segments. An expert-based CT scoring system was improved and artificial intelligence was used to automatically score instead of visual score. Non-linear regression and quantitative analysis were used to analyze the dynamic changes in the percentages of infection (POI). Results: The POI in the five lung lobes of all patients were calculated and converted into CT scores. The CT scores of Original COVID-19 patients and Delta Variant patients since the onset of initial symptoms were fitted over time, respectively. The peak was found to occur on day 11 in Original COVID-19 patients and on day 15 in Delta Variant patients. The time course of lung changes in CT of Delta Variant patients was redetermined as early stage (0-3 days), progressive and peak stage (4-16 days), and absorption stage (17-42 days). The first RT-PCR negative time in Original COVID-19 patients appeared earlier than in Delta Variant patients (22 [17-30] vs. 39 [31-44], p < 0.001). Delta Variant patients had more re-detectable positive RT-PCR test results than Original COVID-19 patients after the first negative RT-PCR time (30.5% vs. 17.1%). In the early stage, CT scores in the right lower lobe were significantly different (Delta Variant vs. Original COVID-19, 0.8 ± 0.6 vs. 1.3 ± 0.6, p = 0.039). In the absorption stage, CT scores of the right middle lobes were significantly different (Delta Variant vs. Original COVID-19, 0.6 ± 0.7 vs. 0.3 ± 0.4, p = 0.012). The left and the right lower lobes contributed most to lung involvement at any given time. Conclusion: Compared with the Original COVID-19, the Delta Variant has a longer lung change duration, more re-detectable positive RT-PCR test results, different locations of pneumonia, and more lesions in the early stage, and the peak of infection occurred later.

Bai Na, Lin Ruikai, Wang Zhiwei, Cai Shengyan, Huang Jianliang, Su Zhongrui, Yao Yuanzhen, Wen Fang, Li Han, Huang Yuxin, Zhao Yi, Xia Tao, Lei Mingsheng, Yang Weizhen, Qiu Zhaowen


Delta Variant, Original COVID-19, chest CT, deep learning, quantitative analysis, stereoscopic segmentation, three-dimensional reconstruction