Introduction: Previous studies in Pakistan have shown considerable over prescribing of antibiotics in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 despite very low prevalence of bacterial infections. Irrational use of antibiotics will worsen antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Methods: Retrospective analysis of medical records of patients in the COVID-19 wards of three tertiary care hospitals to assess antibiotic use during the sixth COVID-19 wave. Results: 284 patients were included, most were male (66.9%), aged 30-50 years (50.7%) with diabetes mellitus the most common comorbidity. The most common symptoms at presentation were cough (47.9%) and arthralgia-myalgia (41.5%). Around 3% were asymptomatic, 34.9% mild, 30.3% moderate and 23.6% with severe disease, with 8.1% critical. Chest X-ray abnormalities were seen in 43.3% of patients and 37% had elevated white cell counts, with 35.2% elevated C-reactive protein levels. Around 91% COVID-19 patients were prescribed antibiotics during their hospital stay, with only a few with proven bacterial co-infections or secondary bacterial infections. Most antibiotics were from the ‘Watch’ category (90.8%) followed by the ‘Reserve’ category (4.8%), similar to previous COVID-19 waves. Conclusion: There continued to be excessive antibiotics use among hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Urgent measures are needed to address inappropriate prescribing including greater prescribing of Access antibiotics where pertinent.


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Ul Mustafa, Z., Batool, A., Ibrar, H., Salman, M., Habib Khan, Y., Mallhi, T., Meyer, J., Godman, B. & Moore, C. 2023, 'Bacterial co-infections, secondary infections and antimicrobial use among hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the sixth wave in Pakistan: findings and implications', Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy. https://doi.org/10.1080/14787210.2023.2299387

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Last updated: 03 May 2024
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