Recovering from a pandemic: pulmonary fibrosis after SARS-CoV-2 infection

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38 Scopus citations


Acute manifestations of SARS-CoV-2 infection continue to impact the lives of many across the world. Post-acute sequelae of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may affect 10–30% of survivors of COVID-19, and post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC)-pulmonary fibrosis is a long-term outcome associated with major morbidity. Data from prior coronavirus outbreaks (severe acute respiratory syndrome and Middle East respiratory syndrome) suggest that pulmonary fibrosis will contribute to long-term respiratory morbidity, suggesting that PASC-pulmonary fibrosis should be thoroughly screened for through pulmonary function testing and cross-sectional imaging. As data accumulates on the unique pathobiologic mechanisms underlying critical COVID-19, a focus on corollaries to the subacute and chronic profibrotic phenotype must be sought as well. Key aspects of acute COVID-19 pathobiology that may account for increased rates of pulmonary fibrosis include monocyte/macrophage–T-cell circuits, profibrotic RNA transcriptomics, protracted elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines, and duration of illness and ventilation. Mechanistic understanding of PASC-pulmonary fibrosis will be central in determining therapeutic options and will ultimately play a role in transplant considerations. Well-designed cohort studies and prospective clinical registries are needed. Clinicians, researchers and healthcare systems must actively address this complication of PASC to minimise disability, maximise quality of life and confront a post-COVID-19 global health crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number210194
JournalEuropean Respiratory Review
Issue number162
StatePublished - Dec 31 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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