A new study from Northwestern University (USA) has highlighted that 21% of patients with severe pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) have a documented bacterial superinfection at the time of intubation, which could potentially result in overuse of antibiotics.
According to the study, superinfection occurs when another infection overlaps the first. In this case, bacterial pneumonia occurs during severe viral pneumonia, further complicating the condition. The study shows that the clinical criteria used to diagnose bacterial pneumonia failed to distinguish between those with bacterial superinfection and those with severe SARS-CoV-2 infection.
(Image: Robina Weermeijer/Unsplash)
According to the authors, current guidelines — which recommend that patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia receive antibiotics given on the basis of a presumption of infection, rather than actual detection of a bacterium — are based on “weak evidence.” Rates of superinfection pneumonia in other published clinical trials of patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia are unexpectedly low.
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The team conducted a single-arm observational study at Northwestern University to determine the prevalence and cause of bacterial superinfection at the time of initial intubation. The authors found that in patients with pneumonia caused by COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) who require mechanical ventilation, bacterial superinfection at the time of intubation occurred in less than 25% of cases. The choice of antibiotics based on guidelines at the time of intubation would have resulted in overuse of these drugs.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and can be accessed in full here.
Source: News Medical
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