We evaluated simple laboratory variables to discriminate COVID-19 from bacterial pneumonia or influenza and for the prospective grading of COVID-19. Multivariate logistic regression and receiver operating characteristic curve were used to estimate the diagnostic performance of the significant discriminating variables. A comparative analysis was performed with different severity. The leukocytosis (P = 0.017) and eosinopenia (P = 0.001) were discriminating variables between COVID-19 and bacterial pneumonia with area under the curve (AUC) of 0.778 and 0.825. Monocytosis (P = 0.003), the decreased lymphocyte-to-monocyte ratio (P < 0.001), and the increased neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) (P = 0.028) were predictive of influenza with AUC of 0.723, 0.895, and 0.783, respectively. Serum amyloid protein, lactate dehydrogenase, CD3 cells, and the fibrinogen degradation products had a good correlation with the severity of COVID-19 graded by age (≥50) and NLR (≥3.13). Simple laboratory variables are helpful for rapid diagnosis on admission and hierarchical management of COVID-19 patients.Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.