OBSERVATIONAL STUDY
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Bacterial and fungal coinfection among hospitalized patients with COVID-19: a retrospective cohort study in a UK secondary-care setting.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the incidence of bacterial and fungal coinfection of hospitalized patients with confirmed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in this retrospective observational study across two London hospitals during the first UK wave of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

METHODS: A retrospective case series of hospitalized patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 by PCR was analysed across two acute NHS hospitals (20 February-20 April 2020; each isolate reviewed independently in parallel). This was contrasted to a control group of influenza-positive patients admitted during the 2019-2020 flu season. Patient demographics, microbiology and clinical outcomes were analysed.

RESULTS: A total of 836 patients with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 were included; 27 (3.2%) of 836 had early confirmed bacterial isolates identified (0-5 days after admission), rising to 51 (6.1%) of 836 throughout admission. Blood cultures, respiratory samples, pneumococcal or Legionella urinary antigens and respiratory viral PCR panels were obtained from 643 (77%), 110 (13%), 249 (30%), 246 (29%) and 250 (30%) COVID-19 patients, respectively. A positive blood culture was identified in 60 patients (7.1%), of which 39 were classified as contaminants. Bacteraemia resulting from respiratory infection was confirmed in two cases (one each community-acquired Klebsiella pneumoniae and ventilator-associated Enterobacter cloacae). Line-related bacteraemia was identified in six patients (three Candida, two Enterococcus spp. and one Pseudomonas aeruginosa). All other community-acquired bacteraemias (n = 16) were attributed to nonrespiratory infection. Zero concomitant pneumococcal, Legionella or influenza infection was detected. A low yield of positive respiratory cultures was identified; Staphylococcus aureus was the most common respiratory pathogen isolated in community-acquired coinfection (4/24; 16.7%), with pseudomonas and yeast identified in late-onset infection. Invasive fungal infections (n = 3) were attributed to line-related infections. Comparable rates of positive coinfection were identified in the control group of confirmed influenza infection; clinically relevant bacteraemias (2/141; 1.4%), respiratory cultures (10/38; 26.3%) and pneumococcal-positive antigens (1/19; 5.3%) were low.

CONCLUSIONS: We found a low frequency of bacterial coinfection in early COVID-19 hospital presentation, and no evidence of concomitant fungal infection, at least in the early phase of COVID-19.

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