Persistent Poor Health Post-COVID-19 Is Not Associated with
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Much is known about the acute infective process of SARS-CoV-2, the causative virus of the COVID-19 pandemic. The marked inflammatory response and coagulopathic state in acute SARS-CoV-2 may promote pulmonary fibrosis. However, little is known of the incidence and seriousness of post-COVID pulmonary pathology.

Researchers describe respiratory recovery and self-reported health following infection at time of outpatient attendance. Methods: Infection severity was graded into three groups: (i) not requiring admission, (ii) requiring hospital admission, and (iii) requiring ICU care. Participants underwent chest radiography and six-minute-walk test (6MWT). Fatigue and subjective return to health were assessed and levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6, soluble CD25 and D-dimer were measured. The association between initial illness and abnormal chest x-ray, 6MWT distance and perception of maximal exertion was investigated.

-- 487 patients were offered an outpatient appointment, of which 153 (31%) attended for assessment at a median of 75 days after diagnosis.

-- 74 (48%) had required hospital admission during acute infection.

-- Persistently abnormal chest x-rays were seen in 4%.

-- The median 6MWT distance covered was 460m.

-- Reduced distance covered was associated with frailty and length of inpatient stay.

-- 95 (62%) felt that they had not returned to full health, while 47% met the case definition for fatigue.

-- Ongoing ill-health and fatigue were associated with increased perception of exertion.

-- None of the measures of persistent respiratory disease were associated with initial disease severity.

Conclusively, this study highlights the rates of objective respiratory disease and subjective respiratory symptoms following COVID-19 and the complex multifactorial nature of post-COVID ill-health.