This article was originally published here
PLoS One. 2021 Jul 30;16(7):e0255513. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0255513. eCollection 2021.
BACKGROUND: Most data on COVID-19 was collected in hospitalized cases. Much less is known about the spectrum of disease in entire populations. In this study, we examine a representative cohort of primarily symptomatic cases in an administrative district in Southern Germany.
METHODS: We contacted all confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases in the administrative district. Consenting participants answered a retrospective survey either via a telephone, electronically or via mail. Clinical and sociodemographic features were compared between hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients. Additionally, we assessed potential risk factors for hospitalization and time to hospitalization in a series of regression models.
RESULTS: We included 897 participants in our study, 69% out of 1,305 total cases in the district with a mean age of 47 years (range 2-97), 51% of which were female and 47% had a pre-existing illness. The percentage of asymptomatic, mild, moderate (leading to hospital admission) and critical illness (requiring mechanical ventilation) was 54 patients (6%), 713 (79%), 97 (11%) and 16 (2%), respectively. Seventeen patients (2%) died. The most prevalent symptoms were fatigue (65%), cough (62%) and dysgeusia (60%). The risk factors for hospitalization included older age (OR 1.05 per year increase; 95% CI 1.04-1.07) preexisting lung conditions (OR 3.09; 95% CI 1.62-5.88). Female sex was a protective factor (OR 0.51; 95% CI 0.33-0.77).
CONCLUSION: This representative analysis of primarily symptomatic COVID-19 cases confirms age, male sex and preexisting lung conditions but not cardiovascular disease as risk factors for severe illness. Almost 80% of infection take a mild course, whereas 13% of patients suffer moderate to severe illness.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: German Clinical Trials Register, DRKS00022926. URL: https://www.drks.de/drks_web/setLocale_EN.do.