Predictive Factors for a New Positive Nasopharyngeal Swab Among Patients Recovered From COVID-19

Link to article at PubMed

Am J Prev Med. 2020 Sep 18:S0749-3797(20)30393-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2020.08.014. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: As an emerging infectious disease, the clinical and virologic course of COVID-19 requires better investigation. The aim of this study is to identify the potential risk factors associated with persistent positive nasopharyngeal swab real-time reverse transcription‒polymerase chain reaction tests in a large sample of patients who recovered from COVID-19.

METHODS: After the acute phase of SARS-CoV-2 epidemic infection, the Fondazione Policlinico A. Gemelli IRCSS of Rome established a post-acute care service for patients discharged from the hospital and recovered from COVID-19. Between April 21 and May 21, 2020, a total of 137 individuals who officially recovered from COVID-19 were enrolled in this study. All patients were tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus with nucleic acid RT-PCR tests. Analysis was conducted in June 2020.

RESULTS: Of the 131 patients who repeated the nasopharyngeal swab, 22 patients (16.7%) tested positive again. Some symptoms such as fatigue (51%), dyspnea (44%), and coughing (17%) were still present in a significant percentage of the patients, with no difference between patients with a negative test and those who tested positive. The likelihood of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection was significantly higher among participants with persistent sore throat (prevalence ratio=6.50, 95% CI=1.38, 30.6) and symptoms of rhinitis (prevalence ratio=3.72, 95% CI=1.10, 12.5).

CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to provide a given rate of patients (16.7%) who test positive on RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid after recovering from COVID-19. These findings suggest that a significant proportion of patients who have recovered from COVID-19 still could be potential carriers of the virus. In particular, if patients continue to have symptoms related to COVID-19, such as sore throat and rhinitis, it is reasonable to be cautious by avoiding close contact, wearing a face mask, and possibly repeating a nasopharyngeal swab.

PMID:33041095 | DOI:10.1016/j.amepre.2020.08.014

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