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The natural history of symptomatic COVID-19 in Catalonia, Spain: a multi-state model including 109,367 outpatient diagnoses, 18,019 hospitalisations, and 5,585 COVID-19 deaths among 5,627,520 people

By Edward Burn, Cristian Tebe, Sergio Fernandez-Bertolin, Maria Aragon, Martina Recalde, Elena Roel, Albert Prats-Uribe, Daniel Prieto-Alhambra, Talita Duarte-Salles

Posted 14 Jul 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.13.20152454

Background The natural history of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has yet to be fully described, with most previous reports focusing on hospitalised patients. Using linked patient-level data, we set out to describe the associations between age, gender, and comorbidities and the risk of outpatient COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalisation, and/or related mortality. Methods A population-based cohort study including all individuals registered in Information System for Research in Primary Care (SIDIAP). SIDIAP includes primary care records covering > 80% of the population of Catalonia, Spain, and was linked to region-wide testing, hospital and mortality records. Outpatient diagnoses of COVID-19, hospitalisations with COVID-19, and deaths with COVID-19 were identified between 1st March and 6th May 2020. A multi-state model was used, with cause-specific Cox survival models estimated for each transition. Findings A total of 5,664,652 individuals were included. Of these, 109,367 had an outpatient diagnosis of COVID-19, 18,019 were hospitalised with COVID-19, and 5,585 died after either being diagnosed or hospitalised with COVID-19. Half of those who died were not admitted to hospital prior to their death. Risk of a diagnosis with COVID-19 peaked first in middle-age and then again for oldest ages, risk for hospitalisation after diagnosis peaked around 70 years old, with all other risks highest at oldest ages. Male gender was associated with an increased risk for all outcomes other than outpatient diagnosis. The comorbidities studied (autoimmune condition, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, heart disease, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, malignant neoplasm, obesity, and type 2 diabetes) were all associated with worse outcomes. Interpretation There is a continued need to protect those at high risk of poor outcomes, particularly the elderly, from COVID-19 and provide appropriate care for those who develop symptomatic disease. While risks of hospitalisation and death are lower for younger populations, there is a need to limit their role in community transmission. These findings should inform public health strategies, including future vaccination campaigns.

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