Clinical Characteristics and Outcomes of Patients Hospitalized for COVID-19 in Africa: Early Insights from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Little is known about the clinical features and outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Africa. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 between March 10, 2020 and July 31, 2020 at seven hospitals in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Outcomes included clinical improvement within 30 days (primary) and in-hospital mortality (secondary). Of 766 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 500 (65.6%) were male, with a median (interquartile range [IQR]) age of 46 (34–58) years. One hundred ninety-one (25%) patients had severe/critical disease requiring admission in the intensive care unit (ICU). Six hundred twenty patients (80.9%) improved and were discharged within 30 days of admission. Overall in-hospital mortality was 13.2% (95% CI: 10.9–15.8), and almost 50% among those in the ICU. Independent risk factors for death were age < 20 years (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] = 6.62, 95% CI: 1.85–23.64), 40–59 years (aHR = 4.45, 95% CI: 1.83–10.79), and ≥ 60 years (aHR = 13.63, 95% CI: 5.70–32.60) compared with those aged 20–39 years, with obesity (aHR = 2.30, 95% CI: 1.24–4.27), and with chronic kidney disease (aHR = 5.33, 95% CI: 1.85–15.35). In marginal structural model analysis, there was no statistically significant difference in odds of clinical improvement (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.53, 95% CI: 0.88–2.67, P = 0.132) nor risk of death (aOR = 0.65, 95% CI: 0.35–1.20) when comparing the use of chloroquine/azithromycin versus other treatments. In this DRC study, the high mortality among patients aged < 20 years and with severe/critical disease is of great concern, and requires further research for confirmation and targeted interventions.