What Does Recovery From COVID-19 Look Like? It Depends. A Pulmonologist Explains.

Reports of recovery from serious illness caused by the coronavirus have been trickling in from around the world.

Physicians are swapping anecdotes on social media: a 38-year-old man who went home after three weeks at the Cleveland Clinic, including 10 days in intensive care. A 93-year-old woman in New Orleans whose breathing tube was removed, successfully, after three days. A patient at Massachusetts General Hospital who was taken off a ventilator after five days and was doing well.

“Patients are definitely recovering from Covid-19 ARDS [acute respiratory distress syndrome] and coming off vents,” Dr. Theodore “Jack” Iwashyna, a professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Michigan, wrote on Twitter recently.

But the outlook for older adults, who account for a disproportionate share of critically ill COVID-19 patients, is not encouraging. Advanced age is associated with significantly worse outcomes for older patients, and even those

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