Ivan Papic, Petra Bistrovic, Tomislav Cikara, Nikolina Busic, Tatjana Keres, Maja Ortner Hadziabdic, Marko Lucijanic

Corticosteroid Dosing Level, Incidence and Profile of Bacterial Blood Stream Infections in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

COVID-19 patients with severe or critical symptoms are often treated with corticosteroids, per contemporary guidelines. Due to their immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory properties, corticosteroids are associated with the development of superinfections. We aimed to retrospectively assess patterns of corticosteroid use and the profiles of bacterial blood stream infections associated with exposure to different dosing levels, in a cohort of 1558 real-life adult COVID-19 patients. A total of 1391 (89.3%) patients were treated with corticosteroids, with 710 (45.6%) patients receiving low, 539 (34.6%) high and 142 (9.1%) very high corticosteroid doses. Bacteremia developed in a total of 178 (11.4%) patients. The risk of bacteremia was of similar magnitude between the no and low-dose corticosteroid treatments (p = 0.352), whereas it progressively increased with high (OR 6.18, 95% CI (2.66–14.38), p < 0.001) and very high corticosteroid doses (OR 8.12, 95% CI (3.29–20.05), p < 0.001), compared to no corticosteroid treatment. These associations persisted after multivariate adjustments and were present independently of sex, comorbidity burden, and mechanical ventilation. The profiles of individual bacterial pathogens differed depending on the used corticosteroid doses. High and very high corticosteroid doses are frequently used for real-life COVID-19 patients with severe and critical clinical presentations and are associated with a higher risk of bacteremia independently of sex, comorbidity burden, and mechanical ventilation use.

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