Introduction: The favorable effects of bariatric surgery (BS) on overall pulmonary function and obesity-related comorbidities could influence SARS-CoV-2 clinical expression. This has been investigated comparing COVID-19 incidence and clinical course between a cohort of patients submitted to BS and a cohort of candidates for BS during the spring outbreak in Italy. Materials and Methods: From April to August 2020, 594 patients from 6 major bariatric centers in Emilia-Romagna were administered an 87-item telephonic questionnaire. Demographics, COVID-19 incidence, suggestive symptoms, and clinical outcome parameters of operated patients and candidates to BS were compared. The incidence of symptomatic COVID-19 was assessed including the clinical definition of probable case, according to World Health Organization criteria. Results: Three hundred fifty-three operated patients (Op) and 169 candidates for BS (C) were finally included in the statistical analysis. While COVID-19 incidence confirmed by laboratory tests was similar in the two groups (5.7% vs 5.9%), lower incidence of most of COVID-19-related symptoms, such as anosmia (p: 0.046), dysgeusia (p: 0.049), fever with rapid onset (p: 0.046) were recorded among Op patients, resulting in a lower rate of probable cases (14.4% vs 23.7%; p: 0.009). Hospitalization was more frequent in C patients (2.4% vs 0.3%, p: 0.02). One death in each group was reported (0.3% vs 0.6%). Previous pneumonia and malignancies resulted to be associated with symptomatic COVID-19 at univariate and multivariate analysis. Conclusion: Patients submitted to BS seem to develop less severe SARS-CoV-2 infection than subjects suffering from obesity.
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