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Symptom Duration of Outpatients with COVID19

Prolonged symptom duration and disability are common in adults hospitalized with severe COVID19. Less is known about recovery among outpatients with milder COVID19. The Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness in the Critically Ill (IVY) Network is a collaboration of U.S. health care systems that recently conducted and epidemiologic study on symptom duration in outpatients with COVID19. Fourteen predominantly urban academic health systems in 13 states each submitted a list of adults who had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR as an outpatient between March 31 and June 4, 2020. CDC personnel then interviewed a random selection of patients or their proxies by telephone between 14 and 21 days after their test date. Respondents were asked about demographic characteristics, baseline chronic medical conditions, symptoms present at the time of testing, whether those symptoms had resolved by the interview date, and whether they had returned to their usual state of health at the time of interview.

Among 292 respondents, 94% (274) reported experiencing one or more symptoms at the time of testing. Of these symptomatic respondents 65% reported they had returned to their usual state of health at a median of 7 days (range 5 to 12 days), while 35% reported they had not returned to normal by the date of the interview. When analyzed by age, 26% among those aged 18 to 34 years, 32% among those aged 35 to 49 years, and 47% among those aged 50 years and older were still symptomatic. Among respondents reporting cough, fatigue, or shortness of breath at the time of testing, 43%, 35%, and 29%, respectively, continued to experience these symptoms at the time of the interview. These findings indicate that COVID19 can result in prolonged symptoms even among persons with milder disease, including young adults.


Tenforde MW, Kim SS, Lindsell CJ, et al. Symptom Duration and Risk Factors for Delayed Return to Usual Health Among Outpatients with COVID-19 in a Multistate Health Care Systems Network — United States, March–June 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 24 July 2020. DOI: icon

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