Unifying Concepts

Characteristics and Management of Covid-19 According to Disease Severity

Evaluation and management of Covid-19 depend on the severity of the disease. Patients with mild disease usually recover at home, whereas patients with moderate disease should be monitored closely and sometimes hospitalized.

Characteristics and Management of Covid-19 According to Disease Severity

Features Management Considerations
Asymptomatic or Presymptomatic Positive SARS-CoV-2 test; no symptoms Monitoring for symptoms
Mild Illness Mild symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, or change in taste or smell); no dyspnea Clinical monitoring and supportive care
Moderate Illness Clinical or radiographic evidence of lower respiratory tract disease; oxygen saturation ≥94% Clinical monitoring; if patient is hospitalized
and at high risk for deterioration, possibly remdesivir
Severe Illness Oxygen saturation <94%; respiratory rate ≥30 breaths/min; lung infiltrates >50% Hospitalization, oxygen therapy, and specific
therapy (remdesivir, dexamethasone)
Critical Illness Respiratory failure, shock, and multiorgan dysfunction or failure Critical care and specific therapy (dexamethasone, possibly remdesivir)




  1. Gandhi RT, Lynch JB, Del Rio C. Mild or Moderate Covid-19. N Engl J Med. 2020 Oct 29;383(18):1757-1766. [Medline]
  2. Blair JE, Gotimukul A, Wang F, Mina SA, Bartels HC, Burns MW, Kole AE, Vikram HR, Gea-Banacloche JC, Seville MT, Petty SAB, Vikram A, Orenstein R. Mild to moderate COVID-19 illness in adult outpatients: Characteristics, symptoms, and outcomes in the first 4 weeks of illness. Medicine (Baltimore). 2021 Jun 18;100(24):e26371. [Medline]

Created Jun 25, 2021.

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