Long Covid in adults discharged from UK hospitals after Covid-19: A prospective, multicentre cohort study using the ISARIC WHO Clinical Characterisation Protocol
Sigfrid L., Drake TM., Pauley E., Jesudason EC., Olliaro P., Lim WS., Gillesen A., Berry C., Lowe DJ., McPeake J., Lone N., Cevik M., Munblit DJ., Casey A., Bannister P., Russell CD., Goodwin L., Ho A., Turtle L., O’Hara ME., Hastie C., Donohue C., Spencer R., Harrison J., Donegan C., Gummery A., Hardwick H., Hastie CE., Merson L., Carson G., Kenneth Baillie J., Openshaw PJM., Harrison EM., Docherty AB., Semple MG., Scott JT.
<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:sec><jats:title>Evidence before this study</jats:title><jats:p>It is emerging that long-term symptoms are often present in people who have had acute COVID-19 disease. These symptoms affect a range of organ systems including respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological systems. It is not clear how many patients who required hospitalisation develop these symptoms and the impact they have on quality of life. We searched PubMed on 24<jats:sup>th</jats:sup> March 2021 using the terms ‘COVID-19’, ‘long-Covid’, ‘long-term’ and ‘outcomes’. This was supplemented by hand searching relevant references and news reports. We identified several small studies focussing on specific symptoms or diseases, studies of patients in community settings and studies of patients who were hospitalised for acute COVID-19 in Italy, Russia and China. There were no peer-reviewed published data at the time of searching which captured outcomes of patients within the United Kingdom.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Added Value of this study</jats:title><jats:p>We found that over half of patients reported not feeling fully recovered several months after onset of Covid-19 symptoms. The most common symptoms reported were fatigue, followed by breathlessness. Patients reported significant increases in new or worse disability, increases in MRC dyspnoea scale and worse quality of life as measured by EQ5D-5L summary index at the time of follow-up compared to before onset of acute COVID-19 symptoms. Our study found that women, in particular women under the age of 50 were significantly more likely to not feel fully recovered, were more breathless, more fatigued and had higher rates of new or worsened disability, even after taking severity of acute disease into account when compared to men of the same age.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Implications of all available evidence</jats:title><jats:p>Long-term symptoms following hospitalisation for COVID-19 are very common and have significant impacts on quality of life. Women under 50 were most likely to have the worst outcomes. Policy makers need to ensure there is long-term support for people experiencing long-Covid and should plan for lasting long-term population morbidity. Funding for research to understand mechanisms underlying long-Covid and identify potential interventions for testing in randomised trials is urgently required.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Structured Abstract</jats:title><jats:sec><jats:title>Background</jats:title><jats:p>This study sought to establish the long-term effects of Covid-19 following hospitalisation.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Methods</jats:title><jats:p>327 hospitalised participants, with SARS-CoV-2 infection were recruited into a prospective multicentre cohort study at least 3 months post-discharge. The primary outcome was self-reported recovery at least ninety days after initial Covid-19 symptom onset. Secondary outcomes included new symptoms, disability (Washington group short scale), breathlessness (MRC Dyspnoea scale) and quality of life (EQ5D-5L).</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Findings</jats:title><jats:p>55% of participants reported not feeling fully recovered. 93% reported persistent symptoms, with fatigue the most common (83%), followed by breathlessness (54%). 47% reported an increase in MRC dyspnoea scale of at least one grade. New or worse disability was reported by 24% of participants. The EQ5D-5L summary index was significantly worse at follow-up (median difference 0.1 points on a scale of 0 to 1, IQR: −0.2 to 0.0). Females under the age of 50 years were five times less likely to report feeling recovered (adjusted OR 5.09, 95% CI 1.64 to 15.74), were more likely to have greater disability (adjusted OR 4.22, 95% CI 1.12 to 15.94), twice as likely to report worse fatigue (adjusted OR 2.06, 95% CI 0.81 to 3.31) and seven times more likely to become more breathless (adjusted OR 7.15, 95% CI 2.24 to 22.83) than men of the same age.</jats:p></jats:sec><jats:sec><jats:title>Interpretation</jats:title><jats:p>Survivors of Covid-19 experienced long-term symptoms, new disability, increased breathlessness, and reduced quality of life. These findings were present in young, previously healthy working age adults, and were most common in younger females.</jats:p><jats:p>Role of the funder: The study sponsors and funders had no role in the study design, collection, analysis, interpretation of data, writing of the report, or the decision to submit the article for publication. Investigators were independent from funders and the authors have full access to all of the data, including any statistical analysis and tables.</jats:p></jats:sec></jats:sec>