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What is the prevalence of bacterial co-infections during COVID-19?


Over 6.4 million people have died globally from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a highly infectious and crippling illness brought on by the virus named SARS-CoV-2. Moreover, more than one million COVID-19-linked mortalities were reported in the United States (US). 

Additional to co-morbidities, like diabetes and hypertension, co-infections with bacteria are among the myriad co-morbidities that are indicated to affect SARS-CoV-2 outcomes in patients. Eventually, empiric antimicrobial treatment has been given often to affected COVID-19 patients. However, because of rising healthcare expenditures, a surge in adverse drug responses, and the development of antibiotic resistance, extensive antibiotic use continues to be debatable.

About the study

The main objective of the present multicenter, retrospective study was to evaluate the frequency of bacterial co-infections and to characterize any patterns found during the peak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. For this, the team looked on SARS-CoV-2 and bacterial co-infections from outpatient reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis in Texas, US, between April 2020 and April 2021. Additionally, the research addressed whether giving antibiotics was necessary during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The authors aimed to ascertain how patient characteristics, including sex, race, age, and ethnicity, affected the prevalence of bacterial and SARS-CoV-2 infection. Further, they sought to compare the incidence of common respiratory pathogens inside the nasopharynx of COVID-19-negative and positive patients. 

The requisition forms included patient demographics, such as the date of birth, sex, race, and ethnicity, and were also self-reported by the study volunteers. During the screening period, the subjects gave broad consent to the research. Moreover, patient data were anonymized utilizing the safe harbor method before being analyzed.


The current work found bacterial pathogens, like Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Staphylococcus aureus, Moraxella catarrhalis, and Klebsiella pneumoniae, among 31.9% of participants, including 32% in COVID-19-positive patients and 31% across COVID-19-negative patients. The scientists discovered no substantial variations in the bacterial infection rates across SARS-CoV-2-positive and negative cohorts. Besides, while the present bacterial co-infection incidence may be greater than those anticipated from many investigations, it was common in the literature for research using nasopharyngeal swabs to find elevated rates of bacteria than those depending on other sources like sputum.

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