Long Covid in adults discharged from UK hospitals after Covid-19: A prospective, multicentre cohort study using the ISARIC WHO Clinical Characterisation Protocol

ISARIC4C Investigators

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


Objectives The long-term consequences of severe Covid-19 requiring hospital admission are not well characterised. The objective of this study was to establish the long-term effects of Covid-19 following hospitalisation and the impact these may have on patient reported outcome measures. Design A multicentre, prospective cohort study with at least 3 months follow-up of participants admitted to hospital between 5th February 2020 and 5th October 2020. Setting 31 hospitals in the United Kingdom. Participants 327 hospitalised participants discharged alive from hospital with confirmed/high likelihood SARS-CoV-2 infection. Main outcome measures and comparisons The primary outcome was self-reported recovery at least ninety days after initial Covid-19 symptom onset. Secondary outcomes included new symptoms, new or increased disability (Washington group short scale), breathlessness (MRC Dyspnoea scale) and quality of life (EQ5D-5L). We compared these outcome measures across age, comorbidity status and in-hospital Covid-19 severity to identify groups at highest risk of developing long-term difficulties. Multilevel logistic and linear regression models were built to adjust for the effects of patient and centre level risk factors on these outcomes. Results In total 53.7% (443/824) contacted participants responded, yielding 73.8% (327/443) responses with follow-up of 90 days or more from symptom onset. The median time between symptom onset of initial illness and completing the participant questionnaire was 222 days (Interquartile range (IQR) 189 to 269 days). In total, 54.7% (179/327) of participants reported they did not feel fully recovered. Persistent symptoms were reported by 93.3% (305/325) of participants, with fatigue the most common (82.8%, 255/308), followed by breathlessness (53.5%, 175/327). 46.8% (153/327) reported an increase in MRC dyspnoea scale of at least one grade. New or worse disability was reported by 24.2% (79/327) of participants. Overall (EQ5D-5L) summary index was significantly worse at the time of 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. Conclusions Survivors of Covid-19 experienced long-term symptoms, new disability, increased breathlessness, and reduced quality of life. These findings were present even in young, previously healthy working age adults, and were most common in younger females. Policymakers should fund further research to identify effective treatments for long-Covid and ensure healthcare, social care and welfare support is available for individuals with long-Covid. The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted medRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


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