Post-COVID-19 syndrome among symptomatic COVID-19 patients: A prospective cohort study in a tertiary care center of Bangladesh

PLoS One. 2021 Apr 8;16(4):e0249644. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0249644. eCollection 2021.


Background: Post-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) syndrome includes persistence of symptoms beyond viral clearance and fresh development of symptoms or exaggeration of chronic diseases within a month after initial clinical and virological cure of the disease with a viral etiology. We aimed to determine the incidence, association, and risk factors associated with development of the post-COVID-19 syndrome.

Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study at Dhaka Medical College Hospital between June 01, 2020 and August 10, 2020. All the enrolled patients were followed up for a month after clinical improvement, which was defined according the World Health Organization and Bangladesh guidelines as normal body temperature for successive 3 days, significant improvement in respiratory symptoms (respiratory rate <25/breath/minute with no dyspnea), and oxygen saturation >93% without assisted oxygen inhalation.

Findings: Among the 400 recruited patients, 355 patients were analyzed. In total, 46% patients developed post-COVID-19 symptoms, with post-viral fatigue being the most prevalent symptom in 70% cases. The post-COVID-19 syndrome was associated with female gender (relative risk [RR]: 1.2, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.02-1.48, p = 0.03), those who required a prolonged time for clinical improvement (p<0.001), and those showing COVID-19 positivity after 14 days (RR: 1.09, 95% CI: 1.00-1.19, p<0.001) of initial positivity. Patients with severe COVID-19 at presentation developed post-COVID-19 syndrome (p = 0.02). Patients with fever (RR: 1.5, 95% CI: 1.05-2.27, p = 0.03), cough (RR: 1.36, 95% CI: 1.02-1.81, p = 0.04), respiratory distress (RR: 1.3, 95% CI: 1.4-1.56, p = 0.001), and lethargy (RR: 1.2, 95% CI: 1.06-1.35, p = 0.003) as the presenting features were associated with the development of the more susceptible to develop post COVID-19 syndrome than the others. Logistic regression analysis revealed female sex, respiratory distress, lethargy, and long duration of the disease as risk factors.

Conclusion: Female sex, respiratory distress, lethargy, and long disease duration are critical risk factors for the development of post-COVID-19 syndrome.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bangladesh / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / complications
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • COVID-19* / therapy
  • Fatigue* / epidemiology
  • Fatigue* / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Syndrome
  • Tertiary Care Centers*

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.