- Bacterial co-infections in COVID-19 patients increase morbidity, mortality and AMR threat
- Rapid diagnostic tests are critical in this public health response
- The FDA-cleared Unyvero LRT/BAL panels rapidly detects a broad range of clinically relevant bacterial pathogens and resistance markers in less than 5 hrs vs. 3 days by bacterial culture.
(1) Bacterial co-infections are the hidden threat lurking behind COVID-19
Already, some studies have found that 1 in 7 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 has acquired a dangerous secondary bacterial infection (Zhou et al., 2020). These co-infected patients have a higher risk of mortality according to reports that 50% of COVID-19 patient deaths were due to secondary infections (Morris, Cleary, Clarke 2020, Zhou et al., 2020). Approximately 20-30% of hospitalized patients co-infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and pneumonia have required intensive care for respiratory support (Huang et al., 2020, Wang et al., 2020). Treatment of severely ill patients with mechanical ventilation is known to increase the risk of bacterial infections, and where antimicrobial resistance is rampant, even higher risks for complications, longer ICU stays and mortality can be expected.
(2) Early diagnosis of secondary bacterial infections limits adverse COVID-19 outcomes by informing timely and appropriate antibiotic treatment
Among co-infected respiratory pathogens detected in SARS-CoV-2 positive patients, Mycoplasma pneumoniae (23%) and Legionella pneumophila (20%) have been reported (Xing et al., 2020). Acinetobacter baumannii, highly resistant to antibiotics, and Klebsiella pneumoniae also have been reported in cultures obtained from COVID19 patients and indicate a higher possibility of these patients to develop septic shock (Chen et al., 2020). Rapid molecular diagnostics that detect a comprehensive spectrum of clinically relevant bacterial pathogens and antibiotic resistance markers are crucial to inform early adjustment of the antibiotic treatment regimen for these secondary bacterial infections to prevent fatal outcomes and help free up urgently needed ICU beds during the COVID-19 pandemic.
(3) Rapid detection of bacterial infections protects high-risk patients and limits super-spreading in healthcare facilities
Patients hospitalized with bacterial infections at the time of the 2003 SARS-CoV outbreak were found to be at high risk of being co-infected with SARS-CoV and acting as super-spreaders (defined by one patient infecting more than 10 additional persons). A study reported that 157 out of 206 (76%) SARS-CoV infections were acquired in a healthcare facility and hospitalized patients with bacterial infections were identified as potential sources of super-spreading (Wilder-Smith, Green, & Paton, 2004). To contain the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, patients with bacterial infections should be identified, triaged, and isolated using rapid molecular diagnostic technologies to (a) limit adverse outcomes in high risk patients carrying bacterial infections and (b) limit further spreading of SARS-CoV-2 infections in healthcare facilities. This is especially relevant as hospital-related infections have also been widely reported for the current SARS-CoV-2 outbreak (Swift, 2020).
Time is critical. The sooner clinicians know whether a bacterial infection is also involved, the sooner they can take appropriate action on antibiotic treatment of the COVID-19 patient. Sims et al. showed that the average time for routine microbiological pathogen identification in positive cultures was 2.9 days while the Unyvero Pneumonia panel results were available in ~5 hours.
Curetis provides a fast and simple FDA-cleared molecular diagnostic panel for detection of lower respiratory tract infections / pneumonia to help with rapid diagnosis and earlier antibiotic treatment decisions for these critically ill patients. Contact us if we can support you with your testing needs.
Let’s fight COVID-19 together!