Research to improve people's health


Taking antibiotics the 2 years before getting Covid-19 increases the probability of manifesting the virus with severity by 12%

A new IDIAPJGol study analyzes the relationship between the consumption of antibiotics and the severity of Covid-19 in 280,679 patients diagnosed with coronavirus between March and June 2020 in Catalonia. Among all the individuals who received antibiotics, those who took antibiotics in the two months prior to infection had 41% more severe Covid-19.



Researchers from IDIAP Jordi Gol have studied the severity of Covid-19 (presence of pneumonia, hospitalization and death) in relation to the antibiotic regimens that patients had received in the two years prior to infection. The study included all patients diagnosed with Covid-19 between March and June 2020 in Catalonia. Of the 280,679 patients who were diagnosed with Covid-19, 146,656 took antibiotics in the previous two years and 25,222 had a severe Covid-19 infection (9%).

In the analysis of the antibiotic regimen, it was taken into account whether the patients had had a high exposure, that is, more than four antibiotic prescriptions in the previous two years; the consumption of so-called top-priority antibiotics, which are those that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), should be reserved as a last resort for very specific situations; and recent exposure, that is, the consumption of antibiotics in the two months prior to the Covid-19 infection.

25% more chance of severe Covid-19 among patients who had taken top-priority antibiotics

One of the main findings of the research is that the risk of severity was higher among people exposed to antibiotics. Specifically, among people who had taken antibiotics in the two years prior to contracting Covid-19, the risk of severity was 12% greater than among people who had not taken. Focusing on people who had taken antibiotics, those who had taken top-priority antibiotics experienced 25% more severe Covid-19 compared to patients who had taken other types of antibiotics.

In the case of people with a high exposure, they had 19% more severity from Covid-19 than those who had taken three or fewer antibiotic regimens. Finally, people who had consumed antibiotics in the two months prior to infection were 41% more severely affected in the course of Covid-19.

Alteration of the microbiota alters antiviral immunity

The consumption of antibiotics alters the body's microbiota, mainly that of the digestive tract, which reduces microbial diversity and causes alterations in antiviral immunity. "This fact is reflected in this work since the people who had a more serious Covid-19 are those who had taken antibiotics more recently," adds Carl Llor, principal investigator of the study.

These alterations have been seen mainly in animal models, and the interaction between bacteria, viruses and human physiology is still quite unknown. "The results of this study should open the door to new research to better understand how the alteration of the microbiota caused by antibiotic consumption affects our immunity and the possibility of presenting more serious infections," concludes Llor.

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Carl Llor, Dan Ouchi, Maria Giner-Soriano, Ana García-Sangenís, Lars Bjerrum and Rosa Morros