There are reports of high rates of antibiotic prescribing among hospitalized patients with COVID-19 around the world. To date, however, there are few reports of prescribing in relation to COVID-19 in Pakistan. Herein, we describe a point prevalence survey of antibiotic prescribing amongst patients hospitalized with suspected or proven COVID-19 in Pakistan. A Point Prevalence Survey (PPS) was undertaken in seven tertiary care health facilities in Punjab Provence, Pakistan. Baseline information about antimicrobial use according to the World Health Organization (WHO) standardized methodology was collected on a single day between 5 and 30 April 2021. A total of 617 patients' records were reviewed and 578 (97.3%) were documented to be receiving an antibiotic on the day of the survey. The majority (84.9%) were COVID-19 PCR positive, 61.1% were male and 34.9% were age 36 to 44 years. One quarter presented with severe disease, and cardiovascular disease was the major comorbidity in 13%. Secondary bacterial infection or co-infection (bacterial infection concurrent with COVID-19) was identified in only 1.4%. On the day of the survey, a mean of 1.7 antibiotics was prescribed per patient and 85.4% antibiotics were recorded as being prescribed for 'prophylaxis'. The most frequently prescribed antibiotics were azithromycin (35.6%), ceftriaxone (32.9%) and meropenem (7.6%). The majority (96.3%) of the antibiotics were empirical and all were from WHO Watch or Reserve categories. Overall, a very high consumption of antibiotics in patients hospitalized with suspected or proven COVID-19 was observed in Pakistan and this is concerning in view of already high rates of antimicrobial resistance in the region. Antimicrobial stewardship programs need to urgently address unnecessary prescribing in the context of COVID-19 infection.


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Mustafa, Z., Salman Saleem, M., Nabeel Ikram, M., Salman, M., Amjad Butt, S., Khan, S., Godman, B. & Seaton, R. 2021, 'Co-infections and antimicrobial use among hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Punjab, Pakistan : findings from a multicenter, point prevalence survey', Pathogens and Global Health. https://doi.org/10.1080/20477724.2021.1999716

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Last updated: 19 May 2023
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