Whole of population-based cohort study of recovery time from COVID-19 in New South Wales Australia


Bette Liu, Duleepa Jayasundara, Victoria Pye, Timothy Dobbins, Gregory J Dore, Gail Matthews, John Kaldor, Paula Spokes

Lancet Regional Health, volume 12, 100193, July 01, 2021. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lanwpc.2021.100193

COVID-19 results in persisting symptoms but there is little systematically collected data estimating recovery time following infection.
We followed 94% of all COVID-19 cases diagnosed in the Australian state of New South Wales between January and May 2020 using 3-4 weekly telephone interviews and linkage to hospitalisation and death data to determine if they had recovered from COVID-19 based on symptom resolution. Proportional hazards models with competing risks were used to estimate time to recovery adjusted for age and gender.
In analyses 2904 cases were followed for recovery (median follow-up time 16 days, range 1-122, IQR 11-24).There were 2572 (88.6%) who reported resolution of symptoms (262/2572 were also hospitalised), 224 (7.8%) had not recovered at last contact (28/224 were also hospitalised), 51 (1.8%) died of COVID-19, and 57 (2.0%) were hospitalised without a documented recovery date. Of those followed, 20% recovered by 10 days, 60% at 20, 80% at 30, 91% at 60, 93% at 90 and 96% at 120 days. Compared to those aged 30-49 years, those 0-29 years were more likely to recover (aHR 1.22, 95%CI 1.10-1.34) while those aged 50-69 and 70+ years were less likely to recover (aHR respectively 0.74, 95%CI 0.67-0.81 and 0.63, 95%CI 0.56-0.71). Men were faster to recover than women (aHR 1.20, 95%CI 1.11-1.29) and those with pre-existing co-morbidities took longer to recover than those without (aHR 0.90, 95%CI 0.83-0.98).
In a setting where most cases of COVID-19 were ascertained and followed, 80% of those with COVID-19 recover within a month, but about 5% will continue to experience symptoms 3 months later.

Related Research Areas

  • Public health research