Blood neurofilament light chain (NFL) is proposed to serve as an estimate of disease severity in hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We show that NFL concentrations in plasma collected from 880 patients with COVID-19 within 5 days of hospital admission were elevated compared to controls. Higher plasma NFL associated with worse clinical outcomes including the need for mechanical ventilation, intensive care, prolonged hospitalization, and greater functional disability at discharge. No difference in the studied clinical outcomes between black/African American and white patients was found. Finally, vaccination associated with less disability at time of hospital discharge. In aggregate, our findings support the utility of measuring NFL shortly after hospital admission to estimate disease severity and show that race does not influence clinical outcomes caused by COVID-19 assuming equivalent access to care, and that vaccination may lessen the degree of COVID-19-caused disability.
- Biological sciences
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