Incidence, diagnosis and outcomes of COVID-19-associated pulmonary aspergillosis (CAPA): a systematic review

J Hosp Infect. 2021 Jul:113:115-129. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2021.04.012. Epub 2021 Apr 21.


COVID-19-associated pulmonary aspergillosis (CAPA) is defined as invasive pulmonary aspergillosis occurring in COVID-19 patients. The purpose of this review was to discuss the incidence, characteristics, diagnostic criteria, biomarkers, and outcomes of hospitalized patients diagnosed with CAPA. A literature search was performed through Pubmed and Web of Science databases for articles published up to 20th March 2021. In 1421 COVID-19 patients, the overall CAPA incidence was 13.5% (range 2.5-35.0%). The majority required invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV). The time to CAPA diagnosis from illness onset varied between 8.0 and 16.0 days. However, the time to CAPA diagnosis from intensive care unit (ICU) admission and IMV initiation ranged between 4.0-15.0 days and 3.0-8.0 days. The most common diagnostic criteria were the modified AspICU-Dutch/Belgian Mycosis Study Group and IAPA-Verweij et al. A total of 77.6% of patients had positive lower respiratory tract cultures, other fungal biomarkers of bronchoalveolar lavage and serum galactomannan were positive in 45.3% and 18.2% of patients. The CAPA mortality rate was high at 48.4%, despite the widespread use of antifungals. Lengthy hospital and ICU stays ranging between 16.0-37.5 days and 10.5-37.0 days were observed. CAPA patients had prolonged IMV duration of 13.0-20.0 days. The true incidence of CAPA likely remains unknown as the diagnosis is limited by the lack of standardized diagnostic criteria that rely solely on microbiological data with direct or indirect detection of Aspergillus in respiratory specimens, particularly in clinical conditions with a low pretest probability. A well-designed, multi-centre study to determine the optimal diagnostic approach for CAPA is required.

Keywords: CAPA; COVID-19; COVID-19-Associated pulmonary aspergillosis; Coronavirus disease 2019; Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis; Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis / diagnosis*
  • Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis / epidemiology*
  • Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis / therapy
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Respiration, Artificial


  • Antifungal Agents