Advertisement

Could the COVID-19 pandemic aggravate antimicrobial resistance?

      Dear editor:
      The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic reached Latin America later than other continents. The first case recorded in Brazil was on February 25, 2020, and 4 months later (June 20, 2020) there have been 1,032,913 confirmed cases including 48,954 deaths. These numbers have made Latin America the epicenter of the disease in the world (Fig 1) (Data extracted from COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, June 20, 2020). Some points regarding COVID-19 in the world should be highlighted: (1) COVID-19 hospitalized patients at Intensive Care Units (ICU) share underlying diseases associated and risk factors to bacterial and fungal infections, such as corticosteroid therapy, chronic respiratory diseases, intubation/mechanical ventilation, and immunoinflammatory response (cytokine storm)
      • Zhou F.
      • Yu T.
      • Du R.
      • et al.
      Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study.
      ; (2) Secondary infections were found in 50% of COVID-19 mortalities. Therefore, bacterial and/or fungal secondary infections or coinfections are a probable factors that affect mortality of critically ill patients with COVID-19
      • Zhou F.
      • Yu T.
      • Du R.
      • et al.
      Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study.
      ; (3) In hospital care the rate of antibiotics usage (94%-100%) was much higher than the reported incidence of secondary infection (10%-15%)
      • Yang X.
      • Yu Y.
      • Xu J.
      • et al.
      Clinical course and outcomes of critically ill patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a single-centered, retrospective, observational study.
      ; (4) During the COVID-19 pandemic hospitals are overcrowded, with some medical centers reporting 50% more patients than normal.
      • Yang X.
      • Yu Y.
      • Xu J.
      • et al.
      Clinical course and outcomes of critically ill patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a single-centered, retrospective, observational study.
      The increase in the number of invasive procedures associated with the use of antibiotics, steroidal anti-inflammatory and other immunomodulatory drugs and the overcrowding in health care settings may lead to an increase in Healthcare-Associated Infections. At the same time, there may be an increment in the severity of Healthcare-Associated Infections, resulting from the exposure of the patient's microbiota to these factors, through the selection, emerge and spread of resistance factors and more virulent microorganisms. In Brazil, these facts are particularly worrying. The overall prevalence of ICU-acquired infections in Brazilian hospitals is higher than reported in most European countries and the USA, with a greater proportion of infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria.
      • Braga I.A.
      • Campos P.A.
      • Gontijo-Filho P.P.
      • Ribas R.M.
      Multi-hospital point prevalence study of healthcare-associated infections in 28 adult intensive care units in Brazil.
      Another point which should be considered is the telemedicine modality implemented to help in COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment. Previously the use of telemedicine to monitor antimicrobial stewardship showed better antibiotic selection and reductions in bacterial resistance. However, a study developed in a pediatric population reveals that over prescription of antibiotics is much more common in telemedicine than in face-to-face visits.
      • Ray K.N.
      • Shi Z.
      • Gidengil C.A.
      • Poon S.J.
      • Uscher-Pines L.
      • Mehrotra A.
      Antibiotic prescribing during pediatric direct-to-consumer telemedicine visits.
      Thereby, telemedicine antimicrobial prescription during the COVID-19 pandemic should be observed to avoid exacerbating antibiotic prescription. At moment, no antimicrobial stewardship interventions were described for COVID-19 in Brazil. Thus, microbiological data must necessarily be collected, mainly to identify pathogens, previously described or emerging, related to secondary infections in patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.
      • Chen N.
      • Zhou M.
      • Dong X.
      • et al.
      Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study.
      Today Brazil is the third country in terms of the absolute number of the deaths by COVID-19, and the Brazilian states with lower health resources have shown the highest mortality rate. Similarly, the number of hospitalizations has also increased. These observations alert us to the worsening of the antimicrobial resistance problem in Brazil, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, it is desirable that actions aimed at reducing mortality in patients with COVID-19, should take into account the worsening of the patient's clinical condition due to secondary infections caused by multi-resistant microorganisms. Therefore, epidemiological studies with antimicrobial surveillance systems that promote the production of quality evidence about antimicrobial intervention effectiveness in patients with COVID-19, especially in critically ill patients in intensive care units should be encouraged.
      Fig 1
      Fig 1Top 5 countries with COVID-19 confirmed cases. The number of deaths and number of patients recovered are represented. US (United States of America) presents 2,240,617 confirmed cases, 119,460 deaths and 606,715 recovered patients, followed by Brazil with 1,032,913 confirmed cases, 48,954 deaths and 560,001 recovered patients, Russia with 576,162 confirmed cases, 7,992 deaths and 334,024 recovered patients, India with 395,048 confirmed cases, 12,948 deaths and 213,831 recovered patients and United Kingdom with 304,580 confirmed cases, 42,674 deaths and 1,319 recovered patients. There are a total of confirmed cases around the world, with global deaths and patients recovered. Data extracted on June 20, 2020 from Johns Hopkins (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html).

      References

        • Zhou F.
        • Yu T.
        • Du R.
        • et al.
        Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study.
        Lancet (London, England). 2020; 395: 1054-1062
        • Yang X.
        • Yu Y.
        • Xu J.
        • et al.
        Clinical course and outcomes of critically ill patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a single-centered, retrospective, observational study.
        Lancet Respir Med. 2020; 8: 475-481
        • Braga I.A.
        • Campos P.A.
        • Gontijo-Filho P.P.
        • Ribas R.M.
        Multi-hospital point prevalence study of healthcare-associated infections in 28 adult intensive care units in Brazil.
        J Hosp Infect. 2018; 99: 318-324
        • Ray K.N.
        • Shi Z.
        • Gidengil C.A.
        • Poon S.J.
        • Uscher-Pines L.
        • Mehrotra A.
        Antibiotic prescribing during pediatric direct-to-consumer telemedicine visits.
        Pediatrics. 2019; 143e20182491
        • Chen N.
        • Zhou M.
        • Dong X.
        • et al.
        Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study.
        Lancet. 2020; 395: 507-513