Post-COVID-19 condition 3 months after hospitalisation with SARS-CoV-2 in South Africa: a prospective cohort study.
Dryden M., Mudara C., Vika C., Blumberg L., Mayet N., Cohen C., Tempia S., Parker A., Nel J., Perumal R., Groome MJ., Conradie F., Ndjeka N., Sigfrid L., Merson L., Jassat W.
BACKGROUND: Post COVID-19 condition (PCC), as defined by WHO, refers to a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems in people who have had COVID-19, and it represents a rapidly emerging public health priority. We aimed to establish how this developing condition has affected patients in South Africa and which population groups are at risk. METHODS: In this prospective cohort study, we used the DATCOV national hospital surveillance system to identify participants aged 18 years or older who had been hospitalised with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in South Africa. Participants underwent telephone follow-up assessment at 1 month and 3 months after hospital discharge. Participants were assessed using a standardised questionnaire for the evaluation of symptoms, functional status, health-related quality of life, and occupational status. We used negative binomial regression models to determine factors associated with PCC. FINDINGS: Of 241 159 COVID-19 admissions reported to DATCOV between Dec 1, 2020, and Aug 23, 2021, 8309 were randomly selected for enrolment. Of the 3094 patients that we were able to contact, 2410 (77·9%) consented to participate in the study at 1 month after discharge. Of these, 1873 (77·7%) were followed up at 3 months after hospital discharge. Participants had a median age of 52 years (IQR 41-62) and 960 (51·3%) were women. At 3 months of follow-up, 1249 (66·7%) of 1873 participants reported new or persistent COVID-19-related symptoms, compared with 1978 (82·1%) of 2410 at 1 month after hospital discharge. The most common symptoms reported at 3 months were fatigue (50·3%), shortness of breath (23·4%), confusion or lack of concentration (17·5%), headaches (13·8%), and problems seeing or blurred vision (10·1%). On multivariable analysis, the factors associated with persistent symptoms after acute COVID-19 were being female (adjusted incident rate ratio 1·20, 95% CI 1·04-1·38) and admission to an intensive care unit (1·17, 1·01-1·37). INTERPRETATION: Most participants in this cohort of individuals previously hospitalised with COVID-19 reported persistent symptoms 3 months after hospital discharge and a significant impact of PCC on their functional and occupational status. The large burden of PCC symptoms identified in this study emphasises the need for a national health strategy. This should include the development of clinical guidelines and training of health-care workers for identifying, assessing, and caring for patients affected by PCC; establishment of multidisciplinary health services; and provision of information and support to people who have PCC. FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, and Wellcome.