In an article published in Annals of the American Thoracic Society, respiratory recovery and self-reported health following SARS-CoV-2 infection are investigated, revealing that persistent ill-health is independent of chest X-rays findings.
The analysis included 153 outpatients in a post-COVID-19 review clinic, who were enrolled at least six weeks after last acute symptoms or hospital discharge. The infection severity was graded into three groups - outpatient management, requiring hospital admission, and requiring intensive care. Participants underwent chest radiography and six-minute-walk test (6MWT). Fatigue and subjective return to health were assessed.
During acute infection, 48 per cent of the participants required hospital admission, and length of hospital stay was associated with an increased likelihood of an abnormal X-ray. However, other markers of disease severity showed no association. Of all participants, 95 (62%) felt that they had not returned to full health, while 47 per cent met the definition for fatigue. None of the measures of persistent respiratory disease were associated with initial disease severity.
The researchers found little evidence for post-infectious pulmonary fibrosis. However, more than half of the participants did not feel back to full health at least six weeks, highlighting the burden to quality of life posed by SARS-CoV-2 infection, the authors conclude.