New study to evaluate antibiotic use in COVID-19 hospital patients

A group of researchers is to evaluate whether a simple blood test for bacterial infection could help to reduce the use of antibiotics in patients with COVID-19.

A procalcitonin blood test (PCT) is used in hospitals to distinguish between bacterial and viral infections and guide antibiotic treatment.

This study will investigate whether the test is effective in COVID-19 patients by looking at data from the first wave of the pandemic in UK hospitals.

Dr Emma Thomas-Jones, deputy director of the Centre for Trials Research at Cardiff University, which is coordinating the research, said: “COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, therefore antibacterial agents – antibiotics – have no direct effect. On top of this, published data indicates that rates of secondary bacterial infection are low in COVID-19 patients, so antibiotic use early in the course of the disease may be unnecessary.

“Despite this many patients are being prescribed antibiotics empirically because of concerns that they may have secondary bacterial infections.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has potential to drive an increase in antibiotic use at a time when antimicrobial resistance is an increasing threat to global health. It’s important to look closely at our use of antibiotics in every scenario to help tackle this issue.”

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