Elevated ferritin levels may be a marker for the rapid deterioration of some covid-19 patients, but if higher levels of ferritin are discovered early enough, this early detection screening could potentially help save lives, according to a clinical study conducted at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center.1

Ferritin, the cell protein that stores iron, is a key molecule in the immune system and orchestrates the cellular defense against inflammation. Sheba researchers examined laboratory and clinical data of nearly 40 patients who were admitted with covid-19 to two hospitals in Israel. Patients who were severely ill seemed to have higher levels of ferritin in their blood, in contrast with patients who had mild cases of covid-19. The researchers suggest that all patients infected with the coronavirus to be screened at an early stage for high levels of ferritin, a condition known as hyperferritinemia.

“This is a catastrophic disease and since it’s potentially a lethal one, we cannot just describe and lie back while publishing articles,” says Gad Segal, MD. “We should, and we will assimilate ferratin levels into other more comprehensive risk categories. This is good support to the approach of administering immune suppression like steroids and namely dexamethasone for treatment of patients who are at risk.” Currently dexamethasone is within the guidelines for treatment of patients suffering from more severe cases of the coronavirus.


  1. Dahan S, Segal G, Katz I, et al. Ferritin as a marker of severity in cobid-19 patients: a fatal correlationIsr Med Assoc J. 2020;8(22):429-434.