J Korean Med Sci. 2020 Aug 3;35(30):e280. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2020.35.e280.
BACKGROUND: The fatality rate of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) varies among countries owing to demographics, patient comorbidities, surge capacity of healthcare systems, and the quality of medical care. We assessed the clinical outcomes of patients with COVID-19 during the first wave of the epidemic in Korea.
METHODS: Using a modified World Health Organization clinical record form, we obtained clinical data for 3,060 patients with COVID-19 treated at 55 hospitals in Korea. Disease severity scores were defined as: 1) no limitation of daily activities; 2) limitation of daily activities but no need for supplemental oxygen; 3) supplemental oxygen via nasal cannula; 4) supplemental oxygen via facial mask; 5) non-invasive mechanical ventilation; 6) invasive mechanical ventilation; 7) multi-organ failure or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy; and 8) death. Recovery was defined as a severity score of 1 or 2, or discharge and release from isolation.
RESULTS: The median age of the patients was 43 years of age; 43.6% were male. The median time from illness onset to admission was 5 days. Of the patients with a disease severity score of 3-4 on admission, 65 (71.5%) of the 91 patients recovered, and 7 (7.7%) died due to illness by day 28. Of the patients with disease severity scores of 5-7, 7 (19.5%) of the 36 patients recovered, and 8 (22.2%) died due to illness by day 28. None of the 1,324 patients who were < 50 years of age died; in contrast, the fatality rate due to illness by day 28 was 0.5% (2/375), 0.9% (2/215), 5.8% (6/104), and 14.0% (7/50) for the patients aged 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, and ≥ 80 years of age, respectively.
CONCLUSION: In Korea, almost all patients of < 50 years of age with COVID-19 recovered without supplemental oxygen. In patients of ≥ 50 years of age, the fatality rate increased with age, reaching 14% in patients of ≥ 80 years of age.