An improved multivariate model that distinguishes COVID-19 from seasonal flu and other respiratory diseases

Xing Guo, Yanrong Li, Hua Li, Xueqin Li, Xu Chang, Xuemei Bai, Zhanghong Song, Junfeng Li, Kefeng Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


COVID-19 shared many symptoms with seasonal flu, and community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) Since the responses to COVID-19 are dramatically different, this multicenter study aimed to develop and validate a multivariate model to accurately discriminate COVID-19 from influenza and CAP. Three independent cohorts from two hospitals (50 in discovery and internal validation sets, and 55 in the external validation cohorts) were included, and 12 variables such as symptoms, blood tests, first reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) results, and chest CT images were collected. An integrated multi-feature model (RT-PCR, CT features, and blood lymphocyte percentage) established with random forest algorism showed the diagnostic accuracy of 92.0% (95% CI: 73.9 - 99.1) in the training set, and 96. 6% (95% CI: 79.6 - 99.9) in the internal validation cohort. The model also performed well in the external validation cohort with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.93 (95% CI: 0.79 - 1.00), an F1 score of 0.80, and a Matthews correlation coefficient (MCC) of 0.76. In conclusion, the developed multivariate model based on machine learning techniques could be an efficient tool for COVID-19 screening in nonendemic regions with a high rate of influenza and CAP in the post-COVID-19 era.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19938-19944
Number of pages7
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • diagnostic model
  • influenza
  • multi-feature
  • random forest


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