Global antibiotic use during the COVID-19 pandemic: analysis of pharmaceutical sales data from 71 countries, 2020–2022
Despite bacterial coinfection rates of less than 10%, antibiotics are prescribed to an estimated 75% of patients with COVID-19, potentially exacerbating antimicrobial resistance. We estimated the associations of COVID-19 cases and vaccinations with global antibiotic sales during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We obtained monthly data on broad-spectrum antibiotic sales volumes (cephalosporins, penicillins, macrolides, and tetracyclines) in 71 countries during March 2020–May 2022 from the IQVIA MIDAS® database. These data were combined with country-month-level COVID-19 case and vaccination data from Our World in Data. We used least squares (pooled) and fixed-effects panel data regression models, accounting for country characteristics, to estimate the associations between antibiotic sales volumes and COVID-19 cases and vaccinations per 1000 people.
Antibiotic sales were positively associated with COVID-19 cases globally during 2020–2022. Our findings underline that antibiotic stewardship in the context of COVID-19 remains essential.
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