BACKGROUND: We defined the frequency of respiratory community-acquired bacterial co-infection in patients with COVID-19, i.e. patients with a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR or a COVID-19 Reporting and Data System (CO-RADS) score ≥ 4, based on a complete clinical assessment, including prior antibiotic use, clinical characteristics, inflammatory markers, chest computed tomography (CT) results and microbiological test results.
METHODS: Our retrospective study was conducted within a cohort of prospectively included patients admitted for COVID-19 in our tertiary medical centres between 1-3-2020 and 1-6-2020. A multidisciplinary study team developed a diagnostic protocol to retrospectively categorize patients as unlikely, possible or probable bacterial co-infection based on clinical, radiological and microbiological parameters in the first 72 h of admission. Within the three categories, we summarized patient characteristics and antibiotic consumption.
RESULTS: Among 281 included COVID-19 patients, bacterial co-infection was classified as unlikely in 233 patients (82.9%), possible in 35 patients (12.4%) and probable in 3 patients (1.1%). Ten patients (3.6%) could not be classified due to inconclusive data. Within 72 h of hospital admission, 81% of the total study population and 78% of patients classified as unlikely bacterial co-infection received antibiotics.
CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 patients are unlikely to have a respiratory community-acquired bacterial co-infection. This study underpins recommendations for restrictive use of antibacterial drugs in patients with COVID-19.