Long-Term Coronavirus Disease 2019 Complications in Inpatients and Outpatients: A One-Year Follow-up Cohort Study

Open Forum Infect Dis. 2021 Jul 16;8(8):ofab384. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofab384. eCollection 2021 Aug.


Background: As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, more and more people are infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The short- and medium-term effects of the infection have been described, but the description of the long-term sequelae is lacking in the literature.

Methods: Patients healed from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from February 2020 to May 2020 were considered for inclusion in this study, regardless of the severity of the disease during the acute phase. Eligible patients were consecutively contacted and a semistructured interview was administered between February and March 2021 by trained medical staff.

Results: Three hundred three patients were eligible and accepted to participate in the study and were enrolled. Of those surveyed, most patients (81%) reported at least 1 symptom, and the most prevalent symptoms were fatigue (52%), pain (48%), and sleep disorders (47%). Sensory alterations were present in 28% of surveyed patients, but in most of these cases (74% of those affected by sensory alterations or 20% of the overall sample) symptoms reported were either anosmia or dysgeusia. Higher prevalence was generally observed with increasing age, although the most relevant differences were observed when comparing young versus middle-aged adults.

Conclusions: At 12 months after acute infection, COVID-19 survivors were still suffering from symptoms identified at shorter follow-up, and the most frequent symptoms included fatigue, pain, and sleep disorders. A more severe impairment in the acute phase did not seem to predict more severe complications.

Keywords: COVID pandemic; COVID sequelae; COVID-19; long COVID.