Research published by University of Florida scientists in Frontiers in Medicine reported that patients (aged 18-65) who recovered from severe COVID-19 infection were 233% more likely to die within 12 months than COVID-19-negative counterparts.
The study analyzed 13,638 patients in the University of Florida Health system over a 12-month period, including positive (mild, severe) and negative cases. A severe case was defined as one requiring hospitalization within 30 days of a positive COVID-19 test. The 12-month risk of mortality was adjusted for age, sex, race, and comorbidities–meaning these factors did not affect the data.
Patients aged 18 to 65 who recovered from an initial episode of severe COVID-19 had a 233% increased incidence of mortality in a 12-month period compared to negative counterparts. Recovered patients aged over 65 also had increased mortality compared to negative counterparts, but to a lesser extent.
The difference in 12-month mortality between COVID-negative and mild COVID patients was not statistically significant.
Only 20% of the deaths in the 12-month period were attributed to cardiovascular or respiratory conditions.
These results show that those who recover from severe COVID-19 infections are much more likely to die within 12 months of recovery compared to those with mild or no infection. This reveals that the increased risk of death from COVID-19 is not limited to the initial episode of infection, indicating that the biological and physiological insult from severe infection is significant. This is further demonstrated by the unexpectedly low portion of deaths caused by cardiovascular or respiratory conditions.
Arch G. Mainous III, Ph.D., first author of the study and University of Florida College of Medicine faculty member, said in a statement to the University of Florida Health Newsroom that “patients may feel that if they are hospitalized and recover from COVID-19 then they have beaten COVID-19. Unfortunately, having a substantially increased [risk] of death in the next year after recovery from a severe episode of COVID-19 shows that this is not the case. Preventing severe COVID-19 should be our primary focus.”
The study mentions that nearly all hospitalizations and severe infections are preventable. Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines prevent severe infection in more than 95% of cases.
Mainous hopes that the data, which he described as devastating, will “make everyone rethink the impact of COVID-19.”
- Katella, K. (2021, December 17). Comparing the COVID-19 vaccines: How are they different? Yale Medicine. https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/covid-19-vaccine-comparison
- Mainous, A. G., Rooks, B. J., Wu, V., & Orlando, F. A. (2021, December 1). COVID-19 post-acute sequelae among adults: 12 month mortality risk. Frontiers in Medicine. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2021.778434
- Pease, J. (2021, December 1). Patients who recover from severe COVID-19 still have significant risk of death, UF study finds. University of Florida Health Newsroom. https://ufhealth.org/news/2021/patients-who-recover-severe-covid-19-still-have-significant-risk-death-uf-study-finds
Reed is a Health Science student and published virology researcher at the University of Florida. His areas of interest are immunology and general biomedical research. Reed founded OneResearch as a free online source to highlight biomedical research and combat medical disinformation.