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Improved pulmonary function and exercise tolerance despite persistent pulmonary fibrosis over 1 year after severe COVID-19 infection.

Thorax 2024 April 16
We conducted a prospective single-centre cohort study of 104 multi-ethnic severe COVID-19 survivors from the first wave of the pandemic 15 months after hospitalisation. Of those who were assessed at 4 and 15 months, improvement of ground glass opacities correlated with worsened fibrotic reticulations. Despite a high prevalence of fibrotic patterns (64%), pulmonary function, grip strength, 6 min walk distance and frailty normalised. Overall, dyspnoea, cough and exhaustion did not improve and were not correlated with pulmonary function or radiographic fibrosis at 15 months, suggesting non-respiratory aetiologies. Monitoring persistent, and often subclinical, fibrotic interstitial abnormalities will be needed to determine their potential for future progression.

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