Researchers from an NIHR-funded study are looking at how to improve the use of antibiotics for patients with COVID-19 who are at risk of developing sepsis and thus organ failure and death.

The ADAPT-Sepsis study, which is being led by researchers at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, actually started back in 2017 with the intention of making antibiotic prescribing for suspected sepsis more effective and targeted.

A key element of this is whether one of two different markers in the blood is more effective to better inform antibiotic treatment decisions for critically ill patients suspected of having developed sepsis.

Now, seriously ill COVID-19 patients are also being included in the study, in the hope of determining whether severe infections caused by coronavirus can be effectively treated with antibiotics.

The trial is one of a number of COVID-19 studies assigned urgent public health research status by the chief medical officer and deputy chief medical officer for England.

“During the first wave of the pandemic, there was widespread use of antibiotics in hospitalised patients with severe pneumonia and sepsis as a result of COVID-19. Research suggests that overuse of antibiotics is associated with further risk of hospital-acquired infection and sepsis as patients recover which can be even more difficult to treat,” noted chief investigator Professor Paul Dark, consultant in Critical Care Medicine at Salford Royal and Professor of Critical Care Medicine at The University of Manchester and the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre.

“This is why it is so important that hospital staff have the best possible guidance on antibiotic treatment decisions in adult patients with severe pneumonia and sepsis. As we go into winter and the second wave of the pandemic, we expect to see more patients with viral and bacterial respiratory infections and this study has a vital role in how we look after them and future patients.”