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Co-author on "COVID-19 sequelae in adults aged less than 50 years: A systematic review"

Updated: Jul 13

A few months ago a group at the Institute for Evolutionary Medicine published a systematic review of COVID-19 sequelae (what may now be thought of as 'long covid'). I helped by reviewing many of the articles. Seeing as I was only a co-author, I didn't think of putting it up here as my first official academic publication! Now I've started my own systematic review on autistic abilities & talents, I realise it's worth mentioning. Of particular excitement was the 'Covidence' app used for the systematic review to make the process much easier (which we are now using for our autism study). Thanks to Sandra Willi for leading the project, and Nicole, Kaspar and Patricia for their role as senior authors. Paper link here


Background There is emerging evidence of long-term sequelae in a considerable proportion of COVID-19 patients after recovery and the spectrum and severity of such sequelae should be systematically reviewed. This review aims to evaluate the available evidence of all intermediate and long-term COVID-19 sequelae affecting formerly healthy adults.

Methods A systematic literature search of Embase, WHO, Scopus, Pubmed, Litcovid, bioRxiv and medRxiv was conducted with a cutoff date of the 17th September 2020 according to PRISMA guidelines and registered in PROSPERO (CRD42020208725). Search terms included “COVID-19”, “coronavirus disease 2019”, “SARS-CoV-2”, “sequelae” and “consequence*”. Publications on adult participants, with a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were included. Elderly (>50 years old) and children (<18 years old) were excluded. Bias assessment was performed using a modified Newcastle-Ottawa Scale.

Results A total of 31 papers were included. Study types included prospective and retrospective cohort studies, cross-sectional studies and case reports. Sequelae persistence since infection spanned 14 days to three months. Sequelae included persistent fatigue (39–73% of assessed persons), breathlessness (39–74%), decrease in quality of life (44–69%), impaired pulmonary function, abnormal CT findings including pulmonary fibrosis (39–83%), evidence of peri-/perimyo-/myocarditis (3–26%), changes in microstructural and functional brain integrity with persistent neurological symptoms (55%), increased incidence of psychiatric diagnoses (5.8% versus 2.5–3.4% in controls), incomplete recovery of olfactory and gustatory dysfunction (33–36% of evaluated persons).

Conclusions A variety of organ systems are affected by COVID-19 in the intermediate and longer-term after recovery. Main sequelae include post-infectious fatigue, persistent reduced lung function and carditis. Careful follow-up post COVID 19 is indicated to assess and mitigate possible organ damage and preserve life quality.


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