Evaluation of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on hospital admission related to common infections

Ali Fahmi, Victoria Palin, Xiaomin Zhong, Ya-Ting Yang, Simon Watts, Darren M Ashcroft, Ben Goldacre, Brian Mackenna, Louis Fisher, Jon Massey, Amir Mehrkar, Seb Bacon, Kieran Hand, Tjeerd Pieter van Staa

Research output: Working paperPreprint


Background Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a multifaceted global challenge, partly driven by inappropriate antibiotic prescribing. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted antibiotic prescribing for common bacterial infections. This highlights the need to examine risk of hospital admissions related to common infections, excluding COVID-19 infections during the pandemic.

Methods With the approval of NHS England, we accessed electronic health records from The Phoenix Partnership (TPP) through OpenSAFELY platform. We included patients with primary care diagnosis of common infections, including lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI), upper respiratory tract infections (URTI), and lower urinary tract infection (UTI), from January 2019 to August 2022. We excluded patients with a COVID-19 record 90 days before to 30 days after the infection diagnosis. Using Cox proportional-hazard regression models, we predicted risk of infection-related hospital admission in 30 days follow-up period after the diagnosis.

Results We found 12,745,165 infection diagnoses from January 2019 to August 2022. Of them, 80,395 (2.05%) cases were admitted to hospital in the follow-up period. Counts of hospital admission for infections dropped during COVID-19, e.g., LRTI from 3,950 in December 2019 to 520 in April 2020. Comparing those prescribed an antibiotic to those without, reduction in risk of hospital admission were largest with LRTI (adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 0.35; 95% CI, 0.35-0.36) and UTI (adjusted OR 0.45; 95% CI, 0.44-0.46), compared to URTI (adjusted OR 1.04; 95% CI, 1.03-1.06).

Conclusion Large effectiveness of antibiotics in preventing complications related to LRTI and UTI can support better targeting of antibiotics to patients with higher complication risks.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2023

Publication series

PublisherCold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press


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