Editor —The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has spread rapidly since the early cases identified in Wuhan, China. There were more than 16 341 920 laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide and 87 245 cases in China as of July 28, 2020. Among the latter, 19% were severe or critically ill patients who required some form of respiratory support as a result of hypoxaemia or respiratory failure. The respiratory support included low-flow or high-flow oxygen therapy via a nasal cannula or mask; noninvasive or invasive positive pressure ventilation; or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). Considering the potential of the COVID-19 pandemic to overwhelm healthcare systems, even in developed countries, there is a need to identify subgroups requiring different respiratory support techniques, and those requiring prolonged hospital admission, to inform service provision, allocate scarce medical resources appropriately, and maximise treatment benefits. Previous studies have reported that older age and male sex were risk factors for poor prognosis in COVID-19 patients, with limited information about the need for respiratory support. A recent study found high levels of respiratory complications in COVID-19 patients requiring surgery, with an associated high mortality.


© 2020 British Journal of Anaesthesia. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Zheng, H., Tan, J., Zhang, X., Luo, A., Wang, L., Zhu, W., Hébert, H., Meng, W., Smith, B., Colvin, L. & Hu, J. 2020, 'Impact of sex and age on respiratory support and length of hospital stay among 1792 patients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China', British Journal of Anaesthesia, 125(4), pp. e378-e380. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bja.2020.07.001

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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