The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been as unprecedented as unexpected, affecting more than 105 million people worldwide as of 8 February 2020 and causing more than 2.3 million deaths according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Not only affecting the lungs but also provoking acute respiratory distress, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is able to infect multiple cell types including cardiac and vascular cells. Hence a significant proportion of infected patients develop cardiac events, such as arrhythmias and heart failure. Patients with cardiovascular comorbidities are at highest risk of cardiac death. To face the pandemic and limit its burden, health authorities have launched several fast-track calls for research projects aiming to develop rapid strategies to combat the disease, as well as longer-term projects to prepare for the future. Biomarkers have the possibility to aid in clinical decision-making and tailoring healthcare in order to improve patient quality of life. The biomarker potential of circulating RNAs has been recognized in several disease conditions, including cardiovascular disease. RNA biomarkers may be useful in the current COVID-19 situation. The discovery, validation, and marketing of novel biomarkers, including RNA biomarkers, require multi-centre studies by large and interdisciplinary collaborative networks, involving both the academia and the industry. Here, members of the EU-CardioRNA COST Action CA17129 summarize the current knowledge about the strain that COVID-19 places on the cardiovascular system and discuss how RNA biomarkers can aid to limit this burden. They present the benefits and challenges of the discovery of novel RNA biomarkers, the need for networking efforts, and the added value of artificial intelligence to achieve reliable advances.
- Artificial intelligence