Larsson SB, von Feilitzen GS, Andersson ME, Sikora P, Lindh M, Nordén R, Nilsson S, Sigström R
Sci Rep 12 (1) 19818 [2022-11-17; online 2022-11-17]
This study aimed to examine current symptom severity and general health in a sample of primarily non-hospitalized persons with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) confirmed COVID-19 in comparison to PCR negative controls. During the first quarter of 2021, we conducted an online survey among public employees in West Sweden, with a valid COVID-19 test result. The survey assessed past-month severity of 28 symptoms and signs, self-rated health, the WHO Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS) 2.0 and illness severity at the time of test. We linked participants' responses to their SARS-CoV-2 PCR tests results. We compared COVID-19 positive and negative participants using univariable and multivariable regression analyses. Out of 56,221 invited, 14,222 (25.3%) responded, with a response rate of 50% among SARS-CoV-2 positive individuals. Analysis included 10,194 participants (86.4% women, mean age 45 years) who tested positive 4-12 weeks (N = 1425; subacute) and > 12 weeks (N = 1584; postcovid) prior to the survey, and 7185 PCR negative participants who did not believe that they had had COVID-19. Symptoms were highly prevalent in all groups, with worst symptoms in subacute phase participants, followed by postcovid phase and PCR negative participants. The most specific symptom for COVID-19 was loss of smell or taste. Both WHODAS 2.0 score and self-rated health were worst in subacute participants, and modestly worse in postcovid participants than in negative controls. Female gender, older age and acute illness severity had larger effects on self-rated health and WHODAS 2.0 score in PCR positive participants than in PCR negative. Studies with longer follow-up are needed to determine the long-term improvement after COVID-19.