Corona Sepsis


Sepsis and COVID-19 - Establishing a National Contact Point for Patients with Long-COVID after Severe Illness (DES-COVID).

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been the focus of media attention, health policy decision-making, and numerous scientific funding programs since March 2020.

However, it is largely unknown that severe disease progression triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 virus meets all the criteria for sepsis. For example, according to a recent meta-analysis, 77.9% of patients admitted for COVID-19 disease have sepsis. This is also true in 33.3% of patients who require treatment in a normal ward. Of these, 17.7% receive intensive care during the course of treatment.


CRIT CARE MED. 2021 DEC; 49(12): 2042-2057

Since the onset of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic, approximately 157,000 patients with critical SARS-COV-2 infection have received intensive care in Germany. Approximately 125,000 citizens who survived a severe SARS-COV-2 infection are expected to be affected by late sequelae that share many common features with survived sepsis illness.



In a multicenter prospective cohort study from the Netherlands, 246 patients were reexamined 12 months after intensive care treatment required for severe COVID-19 disease. The mean age was 61 years, and 81.5% were mechanically ventilated for a mean of 14 days. Median ICU length of stay was 18.5 days, and hospital length of stay was 30 days.


JAMA. 2022;327(6):559-565. DOI:10.1001/JAMA.2022.0040

At 12 months after hospital discharge, 74.3% reported physical symptoms, 26.2% reported psychological symptoms, and 16.2% reported cognitive symptoms. The most common physical symptoms were debilitated state (38.9%), joint stiffness (26.3%), joint pain (25.5%), muscle weakness (24.8%), and myalgias (21.3%). Fifty-eight percent of patients with COVID-19 had problems with their occupational reintegration.

These figures are comparable to those of sepsis survivors.


AM J RESPIR CRIT CARE MED. 2021;203(12):1512-1521. DOI:10.1164/RCCM.202009-3381OC

Since 2005, Deutsche Sepsis-Hilfe e.V. has had experience in counseling patients treated in intensive care with acute illness or the late effects after surviving sepsis and advises relatives and patients via a free hotline by telephone (+49 700 73774 700) or email (

In many places in Germany, those affected have already joined together in COVID self-help groups. Numerous patient organizations are also active internationally. Most initiatives are aimed at long covid sufferers or post covid sufferers with mild/moderate disease. This includes cold symptoms, taste and/or odor changes, diarrhea, etc... Severe COVID-19 disease, on the other hand, is characterized by the presence of pneumonia, which can progress to critical illness characterized by organ failure (sepsis) requiring intensive medical care.

As part of the DES initiative, we also want to establish appropriate counseling for family members and patients affected by severe/critical SARS-COV-2 infection or its late effects. The alliance partners are the National Contact and Information Center for the Initiation and Support of Self-Help Groups (NAKOS) and the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (DIVI).

Information & help:

COVID-19 support groups and
Patient organizations can be found here: