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Differences in Clinical Presentation With Long COVID After Community and Hospital Infection and Associations With All-Cause Mortality: English Sentinel Network Database Study

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Bernardo Meza-Torres, Gayathri Delanerolle, Cecilia Okusi, Nikhil Mayor, Sneha Anand, Jack Macartney, Piers Gatenby, Ben Glampson, Martin Chapman, Vasa Curcin, Erik Mayer, Mark Joy, Trisha Greenhalgh, Brendan Delaney, Simon de Lusignan

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e37668
JournalJMIR Public Health and Surveillance
Volume8
Issue number8
DOIs
Published16 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: ©Bernardo Meza-Torres, Gayathri Delanerolle, Cecilia Okusi, Nikhil Mayor, Sneha Anand, Jack Macartney, Piers Gatenby, Ben Glampson, Martin Chapman, Vasa Curcin, Erik Mayer, Mark Joy, Trisha Greenhalgh, Brendan Delaney, Simon de Lusignan. Originally published in JMIR Public Health and Surveillance (https://publichealth.jmir.org), 16.08.2022.

King's Authors

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Most studies of long COVID (symptoms of COVID-19 infection beyond 4 weeks) have focused on people hospitalized in their initial illness. Long COVID is thought to be underrecorded in UK primary care electronic records. OBJECTIVE: We sought to determine which symptoms people present to primary care after COVID-19 infection and whether presentation differs in people who were not hospitalized, as well as post-long COVID mortality rates. METHODS: We used routine data from the nationally representative primary care sentinel cohort of the Oxford-Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Centre (N=7,396,702), applying a predefined long COVID phenotype and grouped by whether the index infection occurred in hospital or in the community. We included COVID-19 infection cases from March 1, 2020, to April 1, 2021. We conducted a before-and-after analysis of long COVID symptoms prespecified by the Office of National Statistics, comparing symptoms presented between 1 and 6 months after the index infection matched with the same months 1 year previously. We conducted logistic regression analysis, quoting odds ratios (ORs) with 95% CIs. RESULTS: In total, 5.63% (416,505/7,396,702) and 1.83% (7623/416,505) of the patients had received a coded diagnosis of COVID-19 infection and diagnosis of, or referral for, long COVID, respectively. People with diagnosis or referral of long COVID had higher odds of presenting the prespecified symptoms after versus before COVID-19 infection (OR 2.66, 95% CI 2.46-2.88, for those with index community infection and OR 2.42, 95% CI 2.03-2.89, for those hospitalized). After an index community infection, patients were more likely to present with nonspecific symptoms (OR 3.44, 95% CI 3.00-3.95; P<.001) compared with after a hospital admission (OR 2.09, 95% CI 1.56-2.80; P<.001). Mental health sequelae were more strongly associated with index hospital infections (OR 2.21, 95% CI 1.64-2.96) than with index community infections (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.21-1.53; P<.001). People presenting to primary care after hospital infection were more likely to be men (OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.25-1.64; P<.001), more socioeconomically deprived (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.24-1.63; P<.001), and with higher multimorbidity scores (OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.26-1.57; P<.001) than those presenting after an index community infection. All-cause mortality in people with long COVID was associated with increasing age, male sex (OR 3.32, 95% CI 1.34-9.24; P=.01), and higher multimorbidity score (OR 2.11, 95% CI 1.34-3.29; P<.001). Vaccination was associated with reduced odds of mortality (OR 0.10, 95% CI 0.03-0.35; P<.001). CONCLUSIONS: The low percentage of people recorded as having long COVID after COVID-19 infection reflects either low prevalence or underrecording. The characteristics and comorbidities of those presenting with long COVID after a community infection are different from those hospitalized. This study provides insights into the presentation of long COVID in primary care and implications for workload.

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