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COVID-19 pneumonia and the appropriate use of antibiotics


In observance of World Pneumonia Day on November 12, raising awareness of the need for increased research and development of diagnostics and prognostics around COVID-19 specifically, and pneumonia broadly, are warranted. There are concerns that an increase in antibiotic use during the COVID-19 pandemic could exacerbate the current global pandemic of antimicrobial resistance. Most bacterial pneumonias caught early enough can be safely and effectively treated with antibiotics, and broad-spectrum antibiotics are being widely used in patients with COVID-19. However, antibiotic use drives the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antimicrobial resistance is not just an existential threat, it is another global pandemic with millions of antibiotic-resistant infections and more than 700 000 deaths each year. 

 In the case of COVID-19, better understanding and predicting COVID-19 disease severity, which can help guide treatment and management decisions, are essential to effectively combating this deadly respiratory pandemic. There are calls for a multitiered, COVID-19 diagnostic strategy incorporating rapid, point-of-care host immune testing to identify patients at risk of disease and progression. This type of platform could be used for current and future pandemic planning. Being able to reliably and expeditiously identify the risk of disease and progression, in which infected patients with COVID-19 will develop severe pneumonia and disease, could help clinicians in risk stratifying patients and ensuring appropriate care and resources are available.

The Lancet , 11 November 2020