4 Ways COVID-19 is Similar to Sepsis


  • A number of common features are shared by severe coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and sepsis.
  • Organ dysfunction caused by COVID-19 can be depicted as viral sepsis
  • As a syndrome, both COVID-19 and sepsis present with a heterogeneous physiologic and alterations in biochemical values.


  • Sepsis is not a discrete entity, rather it is a syndrome consisting of a constellation of signs, symptoms and laboratory findings. This is described by the most recent definition of sepsis as a dysregulated host inflammatory response related to infection along with new onset organ dysfunction.
  • Although there have been improved trends in prognosis for sepsis patients over the past several decades, generating reproducible results in sepsis trials is been challenging.
  • Potential reasons for the lack of consistency are:

    • the heterogeneity of the patient population
    • various baseline standard care provided
    • lack of precision in better segmentation of the heterogeneity of sepsis

  • COVID-19 has affected almost every country in the world. As we gain a better understanding of this infection, it has become clear the initial viral replication of the SAR-CoV-2 virus in severe cases is followed by an inadequate host response.

    • In its worse form, COVID-19 results in acute respiratory distress syndrome along with dysfunction of other organs.
    • Multi-organ failure is present in most deaths.
    • COVID-19 cases have a heterogeneity within the patient population


With the high complexity and heterogeneity of both disease states, there seems to be commonalities worth highlighting.


  • Patients with both COVID-19 and sepsis consist of very heterogeneous groups of patients, with multiple characteristics.
  • Various classes of agents have been suggested to combat COVID-19 and sepsis.
  • Better characterization of patients is needed to help provide a more personalized patient as well as treatment selection approach with both COVID-19 and sepsis.

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Erkan Hassan is the Co-Founder & Chief Clinical Officer of Sepsis Program Optimization where he designs & oversees the implementation of solutions to optimize sepsis programs.

To discuss your organization’s Barriers of Effective Sepsis Care, contact Erkan by phone (844) 4SEPSIS (844-473-7747), email (erkan@spo.icu), or video chat.