BACKGROUND: Few robust longitudinal data on long-term coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) symptoms are available. We evaluated symptom onset, severity and recovery across the full spectrum of disease severity, up to one year after illness onset.

METHODS: The RECoVERED Study is a prospective cohort study based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Participants aged ≥18 years were enrolled following severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) diagnosis via the local public health service and from hospitals. Standardized symptom questionnaires were completed at enrollment, 1 week and month later, and monthly thereafter. Clinical severity was defined according to World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. Kaplan-Meier methods were used to compare time from illness onset to symptom recovery, by clinical severity. We examined determinants of time to recovery using multivariable Cox proportional hazards models.

RESULTS: Between 11 May 2020 and 1 May 2021, 342 COVID-19 patients (192 [56%] male) were enrolled, of whom 99/342 (29%) had mild, 145/342 (42%) moderate, 56/342 (16%) severe, and 42/342 (12%) critical disease. The proportion of participants who reported at least 1 persistent symptom at 12 weeks after illness onset was greater in those with severe/critical disease (86.7% [95% confidence interval {CI} = 76.5-92.7%]) compared to those with mild or moderate disease (30.7% [95% CI = 21.1-40.9%] and 63.8% [95% CI = 54.8-71.5%], respectively). At 12 months after illness onset, two-fifths of participants (40.7% [95% CI = 34.2-7.1]) continued to report ≥1 symptom. Recovery was slower in female compared to male participants (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 0.65 [95% CI = .47-.92]) and those with a body mass index [BMI]  ≥30kg/m2 compared to BMI <25kg/m2 (hazard ratio [HR] 0.62 [95% CI = .39-.97]).

CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 symptoms persisted for one year after illness onset, even in some individuals with mild disease. Female sex and obesity were the most important determinants of speed of recovery from symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e482-e490
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Early online date2 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2022


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • COVID-19/diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Long COVID
  • Male
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • recovery
  • symptoms

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