Antibiotic prescribing in patients with COVID-19: rapid review and meta-analysis

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2021 Jan 5:S1198-743X(20)30778-3. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2020.12.018. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: The proportion of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 that are prescribed antibiotics is uncertain, and may contribute to patient harm and global antibiotic resistance.

OBJECTIVE: The aim was to estimate the prevalence and associated factors of antibiotic prescribing in patients with COVID-19.

DATA SOURCES: We searched MEDLINE, OVID Epub and EMBASE for published literature on human subjects in English up to June 9 2020.

STUDY ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: We included randomized controlled trials; cohort studies; case series with ≥10 patients; and experimental or observational design that evaluated antibiotic prescribing.

PARTICIPANTS: The study participants were patients with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, across all healthcare settings (hospital and community) and age groups (paediatric and adult).

METHODS: The main outcome of interest was proportion of COVID-19 patients prescribed an antibiotic, stratified by geographical region, severity of illness and age. We pooled proportion data using random effects meta-analysis.

RESULTS: We screened 7469 studies, from which 154 were included in the final analysis. Antibiotic data were available from 30 623 patients. The prevalence of antibiotic prescribing was 74.6% (95% CI 68.3-80.0%). On univariable meta-regression, antibiotic prescribing was lower in children (prescribing prevalence odds ratio (OR) 0.10, 95% CI 0.03-0.33) compared with adults. Antibiotic prescribing was higher with increasing patient age (OR 1.45 per 10 year increase, 95% CI 1.18-1.77) and higher with increasing proportion of patients requiring mechanical ventilation (OR 1.33 per 10% increase, 95% CI 1.15-1.54). Estimated bacterial co-infection was 8.6% (95% CI 4.7-15.2%) from 31 studies.

CONCLUSIONS: Three-quarters of patients with COVID-19 receive antibiotics, prescribing is significantly higher than the estimated prevalence of bacterial co-infection. Unnecessary antibiotic use is likely to be high in patients with COVID-19.

PMID:33418017 | PMC:PMC7785281 | DOI:10.1016/j.cmi.2020.12.018