Identification of healthy people at high risk for severe COVID-19 is a global health priority. This study investigated whether blood biomarkers measured by high-throughput metabolomics could be predictive of severe pneumonia and COVID-19 hospitalisation years after the blood sampling. Nightingale metabolomics was used to quantify a comprehensive biomarker profile in 105,146 plasma samples collected in the UK Biobank during 2007-2010 (age range 39-70).
In decade-old blood samples from the UK Biobank, a biomarker score measured by high-throughput metabolomics is indicative of the risk for severe COVID-19. The molecular signature of biomarker changes reflective of risk for severe COVID-19 is similar to that for severe pneumonia, in particular when accounting for the time lag to the COVID-19 pandemic. The even stronger association of the biomarker score with 2-year risk for severe pneumonia lends support to promising screening possibilities for identifying people at high risk for severe COVID-19.