The excessive use of antibiotics has been linked to severe side effects of Covid-19, according to a recent study. The study, published in the journal eClinical Medicine, revealed that individuals who had a history of frequent and diverse antibiotic use, even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, were at a significant risk of experiencing more severe outcomes after contracting the infection, including death.
Researchers from the University of Manchester issued a warning against the overuse of antibiotics, based on their findings. They discovered that patients with higher levels of antibiotic exposure in the three years preceding the study had greater odds of facing severe Covid-19 outcomes, such as hospitalization and 30-day mortality.
Warning has been issued against the overuse of antibiotics
For hospitalized patients in the group with the most frequent exposure to antibiotics, the odds of dying from Covid-19-related complications were 1.34 times higher. Moreover, patients with a high history of prior antibiotic use and a wide variety of antibiotic types had 1.8 times greater odds of being hospitalized.
The research team analyzed data from 670,000 patients who had recently contracted Covid-19. Among them, 98,420 were admitted to hospitals, 22,660 died, and 55 different antibiotics were prescribed.
Professor Tjeerd van Staa from the University of Manchester suggested that one potential explanation for these findings could be that frequent antibiotic use increases the chances of individuals getting infected with viruses or bacteria, thus making them more susceptible to the adverse consequences of infection. Additionally, antibiotic treatment has been shown to potentially alter gut microbiota, which can impact metabolic and immune function.
“While gut microbiota typically recovers after completing an antibiotic course, frequent antibiotic use may have more profound effects on the resilience of gut microbiomes,” noted van Staa.
Dr. Victoria Palin, also from the University of Manchester, emphasized that there is limited evidence supporting the effectiveness of repeated intermittent antibiotic exposure in reducing infection-related complications. In fact, mounting evidence suggests that such practices can be unsafe. Therefore, there is a need for greater awareness regarding the long-term impact of antibiotic exposure and its adverse outcomes.
Palin stated, “We strongly discourage the regular and indiscriminate prescribing of these drugs for self-limiting infections.”