Antibiotics may not help survival of patients hospitalized with viral infections: study

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(VOVWORLD) - Most patients admitted to hospitals with acute viral infections are given antibiotics as a precaution against bacterial co-infection, but this practice may not improve survival, new research suggests.

Researchers investigated the impact of antibiotic use on survival in more than 2,100 patients in a hospital in Norway between 2017 and 2021 and found that giving antibiotics to people with common respiratory infections was unlikely to lower the risk of death within 30 days.

At the height of the pandemic, antibiotics were prescribed for around 70% of COVID-19 patients in some countries, potentially contributing to the scourge of antibiotic-resistant pathogens known as superbugs. 

This new data, which has not been published in a medical journal, suggests there is "a huge overuse of antibiotics," said lead author Dr. Magrit Jarlsdatter Hovind from Akershus University Hospital and the University of Oslo, Norway.

The overuse and misuse of antibiotics has helped microbes become resistant to many treatments, a development scientists consider one of the greatest threats to global health, given the pipeline of replacement therapies in development is alarmingly sparse.