Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis in the COVID-19 era: An expected new entity

Mycoses. 2021 Feb;64(2):132-143. doi: 10.1111/myc.13213. Epub 2020 Nov 29.


Objectives: Information on the recently COVID-19-associated pulmonary aspergillosis (CAPA) entity is scarce. We describe eight CAPA patients, compare them to colonised ICU patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and review the published literature from Western countries.

Methods: Prospective study (March to May, 2020) that included all COVID-19 patients admitted to a tertiary hospital. Modified AspICU and European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer/Mycoses Study Group (EORTC/MSG) criteria were used.

Results: COVID-19-associated pulmonary aspergillosis was diagnosed in eight patients (3.3% of 239 ICU patients), mostly affected non-immunocompromised patients (75%) with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) receiving corticosteroids. Diagnosis was established after a median of 15 days under mechanical ventilation. Bronchoalveolar lavage was performed in two patients with positive Aspergillus fumigatus cultures and galactomannan (GM) index. Serum GM was positive in 4/8 (50%). Thoracic CT scan findings fulfilled EORTC/MSG criteria in one case. Isavuconazole was used in 4/8 cases. CAPA-related mortality was 100% (8/8). Compared with colonised patients, CAPA subjects were administered tocilizumab more often (100% vs. 40%, p = .04), underwent longer courses of antibacterial therapy (13 vs. 5 days, p = .008), and had a higher all-cause mortality (100% vs. 40%, p = .04). We reviewed 96 similar cases from recent publications: 59 probable CAPA (also putative according modified AspICU), 56 putative cases and 13 colonisations according AspICU algorithm; according EORTC/MSG six proven and two probable. Overall, mortality in the reviewed series was 56.3%.

Conclusions: COVID-19-associated pulmonary aspergillosis must be considered a serious and potentially life-threatening complication in patients with severe COVID-19 receiving immunosuppressive treatment.

Keywords: Aspergillus infection; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2 infection; antifungal therapy; fungal diseases; fungal infections; intensive care; invasive pulmonary aspergillosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillus fumigatus / physiology
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Humans
  • Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis / diagnosis
  • Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis / etiology*
  • Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis / microbiology
  • Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis / mortality
  • Prospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology