Co-Infections, Secondary Infections, and Antimicrobial Use in Patients Hospitalized with COVID-19 during the First Five Waves of the Pandemic in Pakistan; Findings and Implications

Kiran Ramzan, Sameen Shafiq, Iqra Raees, Zia Ul Mustafa*, Muhammad Salman, Amer Hayat Khan, Johanna C. Meyer, Brian Godman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: COVID-19 patients are typically prescribed antibiotics empirically despite concerns. There is a need to evaluate antibiotic use among hospitalized COVID-19 patients during successive pandemic waves in Pakistan alongside co-infection rates. Methods: A retrospective review of patient records among five tertiary care hospitals during successive waves was conducted. Data were collected from confirmed COVID-19 patients during the first five waves. Results: 3221 patients were included. The majority were male (51.53%), residents from urban areas (56.35%) and aged >50 years (52.06%). Cough, fever and a sore throat were the clinical symptoms in 20.39%, 12.97% and 9.50% of patients, respectively. A total of 23.62% of COVID-19 patients presented with typically mild disease and 45.48% presented with moderate disease. A high prevalence of antibiotic prescribing (89.69%), averaging 1.66 antibiotics per patient despite there only being 1.14% bacterial co-infections and 3.14% secondary infections, was found. Antibiotic use significantly increased with increasing severity, elevated WBCs and CRP levels, a need for oxygen and admittance to the ICU; however, this decreased significantly after the second wave (p < 0.001). Commonly prescribed antibiotics were piperacillin plus an enzyme inhibitor (20.66%), azithromycin (17.37%) and meropenem (15.45%). Common pathogens were Staphylococcus aureus (24.19%) and Streptococcus pneumoniae (20.96%). The majority of the prescribed antibiotics (93.35%) were from the WHO’s “Watch” category. Conclusions: Excessive prescribing of antibiotics is still occurring among COVID-19 patients in Pakistan; however, rates are reducing. Urgent measures are needed for further reductions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number789
JournalAntibiotics
Volume11
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Pakistan
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • antimicrobial utilization
  • guidelines
  • hospitalized patients
  • resistance patterns
  • successive waves

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