Nakitanda AO, Karlsson P, Löfling L, Cesta CE, Odsbu I
Infect Dis . 2020 Dec 10;20(1):942. 22 (1) 492 [2022-05-24; online 2022-05-24]
Increased and inappropriate antimicrobial use are the key drivers of the emergence of antimicrobial resistance, and there have been widespread concerns around potential antimicrobial misuse, overuse and their consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic. To better understand the impact of the pandemic on antimicrobial use, particularly in light of the resurgence of COVID-19 cases since the summer of 2020, we assessed trends in antimicrobial prescription fills and hospital requisitions in Sweden during 2020 against those of preceding years. We performed a descriptive study using population-based data from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register and the Swedish e-Health Agency. The weekly number of prescriptions filled and the total volume sold to inpatient care institutions in defined daily doses (DDDs) per 1000 inhabitants for systemic antibacterials (Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical therapeutic subgroup J01 excluding J01XX), antimycotics (J02), antivirals (J05) and antiprotozoals (P01) were computed and evaluated from time series graphs. A time series linear regression with ordinary least squares (OLS) estimation was used to model 2015-2019 data and predict the expected number of prescriptions filled and volumes sold in DDDs per 1000 inhabitants during 2020 with 95% confidence limits. From mid-March 2020, the weekly rate of antibiotic and antiprotozoal prescriptions filled plummeted to unprecedentedly low levels for the rest of the year; while unprecedentedly high numbers of antiviral prescriptions were filled weekly between mid-February and mid-March 2020. There was a net reduction in annual dispensing of antibiotics by 17%; of antiprotozoals by 21%; and of antivirals by 0.3% during 2020 compared to 2019. Inpatient care requisitions of antiprotozoals and antibiotics surged to 6-year highs during March 2020, resulting in a 127% increase in DDDs of antiprotozoals sold from 2019. The volume of antibiotics and antivirals sold to inpatient care institutions in 2020 decreased by 3% and 13% compared to 2019, respectively. The overall decline in antimicrobial prescriptions filled in Sweden during 2020 were in part, collateral dividends of the COVID-19 pandemic.