Medium-term outcome of severe to critically ill patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection
Clin. infect. dis
BACKGROUND: The medium and long-term effects of severe SARS-CoV-2 infection on survivors are unknown. Here we studied the medium term effects of COVID-19 on survivors of severe disease. METHODS: This is a retrospective, case series of 200 patients hospitalised across three large Birmingham hospitals with severe-to-critical COVID-19 infection 4-7 months from disease-onset. Patients underwent comprehensive clinical, laboratory, imaging, lung function test, quality of life and cognitive assessments. RESULTS: At 4-7 months from disease-onset, 63.2% of patients experienced persistent breathlessness, 53.5% complained of significant fatigue, 37.5% reduced mobility and 36.8% pain. Serum markers of inflammation and organ injuries that persisted at hospital discharge had normalised on follow-up indicating no sustained immune response causing chronic maladaptive inflammation. Chest radiographs showed a complete resolution in 82.8%; and significantly improved or no change in 17.2%. Lung function test (LFT) revealed gas transfer abnormalities in 80.0% and spirometry in 37.6% patients. Patients with breathlessness had significantly high incidence of comorbidities, abnormal residual chest X-ray and LFT (p<0.01 to all). In all parameters assessed and persisting symptoms there was no statically significant difference between patients managed on hospital wards and on ITU groups. All patients reported a significantly reduced quality of life in all domains of the EQ-5D-5L quality of life measures. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: A significant proportion of COVID-19 with severe illness experience ongoing symptoms of breathlessness, fatigue, pain, reduced mobility, depression and reduced quality of life at 4-7 months from disease-onset. Symptomatic patients tend to have more residual CXR and LFT abnormalities.