Objective: Obesity is a major risk factor for becoming seriously ill with the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). One difficulty faced by clinicians and by patients is the unknown time frame of hospitalization until discharge of symptomatic patients.
Methods: We followed 34 patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection who recovered fromthe infection. All diagnoses were given using semi-quantitative RT-PCR on nasopharyngeal swabs. Envelope protein gene (E), RNA-dependent RNA polymerase gene (RdRP), and nucleocapsid gene (N) were measured by RT-PCR. Weight was measured and height was self-reported.
Results: Mean ± SD age was 51.8 ± 16.7 years. Mean ± SD body mass index (BMI) was 27.4 ± 4.7 kg/m2. 26% (9/34) had obesity, with BMI above 30 kg/m2. Fifteen patients had BMI between 25 and 29.9 kg/m2. The mean length of hospital stay was longer for those with a BMI >25 kg/m2 (n = 24) than for those with a normal BMI (19.2 vs. 16.0 days, p = 0.08). Comparing people with obesity (BMI >30 kg/m2 or above) to those without obesity, the difference was larger (20.6 vs. 16.0 days, p = 0.06).
A trend for correlation between body weight and the time to negative detection of RdRp gene was found (r = 0.33, p = 0.09).
Conclusions: Our results highlight the need for priority of early detection and testing, and early therapy for people with obesity and COVID-19 infections.