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Over 56% of Covid-19 patients with secondary infection have died, finds ICMR study

Over half of those Covid-19 patients, who developed a secondary bacterial or fungal infection, have died, found a new study by ICMR. 

City’Express News

New Delhi,May,28,2021:Astudy done by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has found that hospital infections and secondary infections are causing deaths among Covid-19 patients. The study shows 56% of Covid-19 patients with secondary infection have died due to bacterial infections or fungal infections.

It was found that half of the Covid-19 patients who had developed secondary infections had died. These were patients admitted in the ICU. The study was between the period of June-August last year and has shown that many Covid-19 patients developed a secondary bacterial or fungal infection during treatment or after and led to death in over half of the cases.

Moreover, several cases of black fungus and white fungus have been reported among Covid-19 patients. Cases of hospital-acquired infections and black fungus or mucormycosis infections were also recorded in the study.

Out of the 17,534 patients surveyed in the ICMR study, 3.6% developed a secondary bacterial or fungal infection and the mortality among these patients was at 56.7%. This means half of the Covid-19 patients who developed secondary infections have succumbed.

The mortality rate was manifold in case of secondary infections as against the overall mortality of Covid-19 patients admitted at hospitals. This reflects the susceptibility of those acquiring infections.

Blood and respiratory sites were the most common sites of secondary infection in Covid-19 patients. Gram-negative pathogens were predominant in respiratory infections, with a significant proportion of Gram-positive pathogens isolated from bloodstream infections,” observed the study.

The ICMR study has also indicated that there is growing drug resistance which had a major role to play in the patients developing secondary infections.

“As most of the secondary infections in our study were nosocomial in origin, and that too with highly drug-resistant pathogens, it highlighted poor infection control practices and irrational antibiotic prescription practices,” said the ICMR study.

Speaking to India Today TV, Dr Kamini Walia, senior scientist at the ICMR who led this study said, “Drug-resistant infections increase hospital stays, increase the cost of treatment. Moreover, when these patients have high drug-resistant infections, the outcomes are poor.”

The study has further warned against the irrational use of antibiotics not only to save lives, but also to prevent drug-resistant infections from spreading.

“Standard practices in ICUs need to be followed. In case of Covid-19 patients, doctors are wearing PPEs, double gloves etc. These become physical challenges for implementing infection control practices,” Dr Walia told

“In poor sanitation practices, one tries to provide anti-microbial cover. Anti-microbial cover is not always required and this is leading to drug resistance,” Dr Walia said.

HEALTH MINISTRY STEPS IN
A week ago, the Union health ministry stepped in and asked states to prepare and implement infection prevention control programmes in hospitals in accordance with the National Guidelines for Infection and Control in Healthcare Facilities.

This came in light of the increasing number of black fungus or mucormycosis cases. Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in his letter to chief secretaries and administrators of all states, asked them to establish or activate the hospital infection control committee chaired by head of the institution or an administrator.

Bhushan also asked the states to designate an infection prevention and control nodal officer, preferably a microbiologist or a senior infection control nurse.

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