[ Question ]

Will nCoV survivors suffer lasting disability at a high rate?

by jimrandomh 1 min read11th Feb 20202 comments

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The case fatality rate of 2019-nCoV (aka Coronavirus, COVID-19) is still uncertain, with estimates floating around ranging from 0.16%-5.7%, higher among the elderly and people with preexisting conditions, and lower among everyone else. However, the death rate doesn't capture all of the harms from infection. There is also time lost during the infection and recovery, there is the possibility of accelerated aging, and there is the possibility of long-term nonfatal disability, such as chronic fatigue.

Since 2019-nCoV has only existed for about two months, there is no data on the long-term outcomes of its survivors. However, the rate of lasting disability among survivors is important for deciding what responses are appropriate. I'm particularly interested in estimating the risk of chronic fatigue from nCoV infection. If that risk is high, this would greatly increase the importance of avoiding it personally and of suppressing it in communities of people doing important work, and would also greatly increase the expected economic impact.

As a starting point, I chose a similar but more severe virus, SARS, which was successfully contained in 2003. Out of 208 Canadian survivors of SARS, 22 (10%) appear in this study of subjects "who remained unable to return to their former occupation" with "clinical similarities to patients with fibromyalgia syndrome". This implies a high lower bound on the rate of disability among SARS survivors. However, this is only one virus, and may not be representative of severe respiratory illnesses.

Good answers to this question would be:

  • Papers estimating the rates of postviral fatigue from other viruses, especially respiratory viruses, viruses with severity comparable to 2019-nCoV, and among non-elderly patients
  • Models of postviral fatigue and how they relate to 2019-nCoV
  • Data on whether and how much lung damage from non-viral sources causes chronic fatigue
  • Early data on 2019-nCoV which bears on this question

Any research help on this question is greatly appreciated, even if it provides only a bit of information about a small corner of the problem, or reports that a strategy for answering the question failed to pan out.

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I've seen the following quote:

"Moreover, reportedly the virus does serious damage to people’s lower respiratory systems — supposedly it can take “…at least six months for patients to recover heart and lung function.” If this becomes endemic across the world, even developed nation’s healthcare systems will struggle to provide care." https://www.cassandracapital.net/post/coronavirus-the-status-of-the-outbreak-and-4-possible-scenarios"