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Study looks at COVID-19 antibiotic consumption by age

Researchers examined antibiotic prescriptions during outpatient visits by US citizens older than 64 with commercial health insurance who had severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. The study was published in a research letter in JAMA Health Forum.

Worldwide morbidity and death from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have reached historic levels. In Medicare-insured patients, a sizable fraction of outpatient SARS-CoV-2 infection-related visits result in the prescription of antibiotics. Studying antibiotic prescriptions linked to COVID-19 may help programs and strategies for antibiotic stewardship.

Researchers in the present research letter presented outcomes from a study on the prescription of antibiotics to COVID-19 outpatients living in the United States between 2020 and 2022.

The purpose of the cross-sectional study was to examine trends in the prescription of antibiotics for COVID-19 outpatients with the U07.1 International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) code between 1 April 2020 and 31 May 2022. The OptumLabs data warehouse was used to identify pediatric participants under the age of 17 and adult participants between the ages of 18 and 64 for the study, which included de-identified health claims data from 10.0 to 20.0 percent of US citizens with health insurance.

Outpatient department visitors who were covered by pharmaceutical and medical insurance were identified, and the association between those people and those who had received antibiotic prescriptions the week before or after visits was assessed. The analysis was limited to outpatient visits related to SARS-CoV-2 infections, and 5% of the visits and related prescriptions for antibiotics were disregarded due to the presence of co-diagnoses requiring antibiotics.

The study comprised 177,057 and 1,293,303 pediatric and adult COVID-19 outpatients, respectively. Antibiotic prescribing rates during SARS-CoV-2 infection-associated visits were more significant among older individuals, four percent among individuals aged ≤5.0 years and 16.0% among those aged between 45 and 64 years.

Twenty percent and seven percent of health visits and antibiotic prescribing for acute respiratory tract infection were among COVID-19 patients across ages. In the sensitivity analysis, antibiotic prescribing within two (versus seven) days of outpatient visits was four percent versus five percent among pediatric individuals and 11.0% versus 13.0% among adults.