Background: Bacterial co-pathogens are commonly identified in viral respiratory infections and are important causes of morbidity and mortality. The prevalence of bacterial infection in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 is not well understood.
Aims: To determine the prevalence of bacterial co-infection (at presentation) and secondary infection (after presentation) in patients with COVID-19.
Sources: We performed a systematic search of MEDLINE, OVID Epub and EMBASE databases for English language literature from 2019 to April 16, 2020. Studies were included if they (a) evaluated patients with confirmed COVID-19 and (b) reported the prevalence of acute bacterial infection.
Content: Data were extracted by a single reviewer and cross-checked by a second reviewer. The main outcome was the proportion of COVID-19 patients with an acute bacterial infection. Any bacteria detected from non-respiratory-tract or non-bloodstream sources were excluded. Of 1308 studies screened, 24 were eligible and included in the rapid review representing 3338 patients with COVID-19 evaluated for acute bacterial infection. In the meta-analysis, bacterial co-infection (estimated on presentation) was identified in 3.5% of patients (95%CI 0.4-6.7%) and secondary bacterial infection in 14.3% of patients (95%CI 9.6-18.9%). The overall proportion of COVID-19 patients with bacterial infection was 6.9% (95%CI 4.3-9.5%). Bacterial infection was more common in critically ill patients (8.1%, 95%CI 2.3-13.8%). The majority of patients with COVID-19 received antibiotics (71.9%, 95%CI 56.1 to 87.7%).
Implications: Bacterial co-infection is relatively infrequent in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The majority of these patients may not require empirical antibacterial treatment.
Keywords: Bacterial infections; COVID-19; Co-infection; Living review; Secondary infection.
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