Characterisation and outcomes of ARDS secondary to pneumonia in patients with and without SARS-CoV-2: a single-centre experience

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Minesh Chotalia
  • Joseph Alderman
  • Chhaya Patel
  • Amber Hayden
  • Ruchi Desai
  • Emily Beesley
  • Louise E Crowley
  • Marina Soltan
  • Mansoor Bangash

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust


INTRODUCTION: Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is the major cause of mortality in patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia. It appears that development of 'cytokine storm' in patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia precipitates progression to ARDS. However, severity scores on admission do not predict severity or mortality in patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia. Our objective was to determine whether patients with SARS-CoV-2 ARDS are clinically distinct, therefore requiring alternative management strategies, compared with other patients with ARDS. We report a single-centre retrospective study comparing the characteristics and outcomes of patients with ARDS with and without SARS-CoV-2.

METHODS: Two intensive care unit (ICU) cohorts of patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham were analysed: SARS-CoV-2 patients admitted between 11 March and 21 April 2020 and all patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) from bacterial or viral infection who developed ARDS between 1 January 2017 and 1 November 2019. All data were routinely collected on the hospital's electronic patient records.

RESULTS: A greater proportion of SARS-CoV-2 patients were from an Asian ethnic group (p=0.002). SARS-CoV-2 patients had lower circulating leucocytes, neutrophils and monocytes (p<0.0001), but higher CRP (p=0.016) on ICU admission. SARS-CoV-2 patients required a longer duration of mechanical ventilation (p=0.01), but had lower vasopressor requirements (p=0.016).

DISCUSSION: The clinical syndromes and respiratory mechanics of SARS-CoV-2 and CAP-ARDS are broadly similar. However, SARS-CoV-2 patients initially have a lower requirement for vasopressor support, fewer circulating leukocytes and require prolonged ventilation support. Further studies are required to determine whether the dysregulated inflammation observed in SARS-CoV-2 ARDS may contribute to the increased duration of respiratory failure.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000731
JournalBMJ Open Respiratory Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2020


  • C-Reactive Protein/metabolism, COVID-19/complications, Cohort Studies, Critical Care/methods, Ethnic Groups/statistics & numerical data, Female, Humans, Leukocytes/metabolism, Male, Middle Aged, Monocytes/metabolism, Neutrophils/metabolism, Patient Outcome Assessment, Respiration, Artificial/statistics & numerical data, Respiratory Distress Syndrome/blood, Respiratory Mechanics, Retrospective Studies, SARS-CoV-2, Time, United Kingdom, Vasoconstrictor Agents/therapeutic use