Prevalence, determinants, and impact on general health and working capacity of post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 six to 12 months after infection: a population-based retrospective cohort study from southern Germany

The study titled “Prevalence determinants and impact on general health and working capacity of post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 six to 12 months after infection: a population-based retrospective cohort study from southern Germany” provides comprehensive insights into the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Here’s a summary:

Background and Methods: This study focused on the post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, examining symptoms six to 12 months after infection and their impact on general health and working capacity. It was a population-based retrospective cohort study conducted in southern Germany, including individuals aged 18-65 with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection​​.

Study Population: Out of 50,457 adults invited, 11,710 participated. The majority were females (59.8%), with a mean age of 44.1 years. Most subjects were from urban areas with university education, and 77.5% did not require medical care during acute infection​​.

Findings:

  • Prevalent Symptoms: Common symptoms six to 12 months post-infection included rapid physical exhaustion, shortness of breath, concentration difficulties, chronic fatigue, memory disturbance, and altered sense of smell. These symptoms had prevalence differences (PDs) greater than 20% and prevalence ratios (PRs) above 5% compared to pre-infection levels​​.
  • Symptom Clusters: 30 post-acute symptoms were grouped into 13 clusters, with “fatigue” being the most common (37.2%), followed by “neurocognitive impairment” (31.3%), “chest symptoms” (30.2%), “smell or taste disorder” (23.6%), and “anxiety/depression” (21.1%)​​.
  • Determinants and Risk Factors: Female sex and the severity of initial infection were key risk factors. BMI and smoking status were also significant. Time since acute infection showed no association with symptom clusters, except for a weak link with altered sense of smell/taste​​.
  • Impact on Health and Working Capacity: The average self-reported health recovery was 89.5%, indicating an overall loss of 11.5%. Working capacity loss was 10.7%. Fatigue and neurocognitive impairment had the most substantial impact on both health recovery and working capacity​​.
  • Overall Prevalence of Post-COVID Syndrome: When considering new symptoms with moderate or strong daily life impairment and less than 80% recovered general health or working capacity, the estimated prevalence of post-COVID syndrome was 28.5% (age- and sex-standardised rate 26.5%)​​.

Conclusion: The study reveals that post-acute sequelae of COVID-19, including fatigue and neurocognitive impairment, remain significant six to 12 months after infection, affecting both health and working capacity. This highlights the need for ongoing attention to these long-term effects.

Read More: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.03.14.22272316v1.full.pdf

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