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The impact of early therapies for COVID-19 on death, hospitalization and persisting symptoms: a retrospective study.

Infection 2023 April 7
PURPOSE: Oral antivirals (nirmatrelvir/ritonavir and molnupiravir), intravenous short treatment of remdesivir and anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have been used for early COVID-19 treatments in high risk of disease progression patients. The term long COVID has been used to refer to a range of new, returning, or ongoing symptoms after SARS-CoV-2 infection. Little is known about the impact of such therapies on long COVID.

METHODS: This is a retrospective observational study, including all outpatients evaluated from April 2021 to March 2022 in Brescia, Lombardy, northern Italy. Patients were stratified in three groups: (a) treated with mAbs, (b) treated with antivirals drugs and (c) controls (patients eligible for a or b who refused treatment). Data were collected at baseline and at month 1 and 3 (data on self-reported symptoms were collected using a telephone-administered questionnaire). We assessed early COVID-19 therapies effectiveness in preventing hospitalization, death at 1 or 3 months and persisting symptoms at 3 months after the onset of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

RESULTS: A total of 649 patients were included in the study, of which 242 (37.3%) were treated with mAbs, 197 (30.3%) with antiviral drugs and 210 (32.4%) were not treated. Patients most frequently reported cerebro-cardiovascular diseases (36.7%) followed by obesity (22%). Overall, 29 patients (4.5%) died or were hospitalized at 1 or 3-month follow-up. Death or hospitalization was positively associated with older ages, with a significant linear trend (OR 3.05; 95% CI 1.16-8.06, for patients aged 80 or more years compared to those aged less than 65). Data on long COVID at 3 months were available for 323 (49.8%) patients. A positive association emerged for females compared to men, with an OR of 2.14 (95% CI 1.30-3.53) for any symptoms. Conversely, inverse associations were found for treatment groups as compared to the control one, with significant estimates among patients treated with antiviral drugs for any symptoms (OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.21-0.87) and patients treated with mAbs for any neuro-behavioral symptoms (OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.25-0.92).

CONCLUSIONS: We report beneficial effect of early use of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antivirals and mAbs on long COVID.

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