Background: Persistent viral RNA shedding of SARS-CoV-2 following COVID-19 has increasingly been recognized, with limited understanding of its implications on outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
Methods: We retrospectively assessed for persistent viral shedding across Northwestern Medicine Healthcare (NMHC) patients between March and August 2020. We assessed for predictors of persistent viral shedding, in-hospital delirium, and six-month mortality using binary logistic regression.
Results: Of the 2,518 hospitalized patients with an RT-PCR-confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, 959 underwent repeat SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR at least fourteen days from initial positive testing. Of those, 405 (42.2%) patients were found to have persistent viral shedding. Persistent viral shedding was associated with male sex, increased BMI, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, and exposure to corticosteroids during initial COVID-19 hospitalization. Persistent viral shedding was independently associated with incidence of in-hospital delirium after adjusting for factors including severity of respiratory dysfunction (OR 2.45; 95% CI 1.75, 3.45). Even after adjusting for age, severity of respiratory dysfunction, and occurrence of in-hospital delirium, persistent viral shedding remained significantly associated with increased six-month mortality (OR 2.43; 95% CI 1.42, 4.29).
Conclusions: Persistent viral shedding occurs frequently in hospitalized COVID-19 patients and is associated with in-hospital delirium and increased six-month mortality.
Keywords: COVID-19; Delirium; SARS-CoV-2; Viral Shedding.
© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to American Aging Association.