Many COVID-19 patients are getting antibiotics even when the drugs are unlikely to help, raising concerns about patient safety and antibiotic resistance, experts told MedPage Today.

That practice pairs with a recent GAO report highlighting the minimal progress of a major federal initiative to combat antibiotic resistance before the pandemic.

“It already is a huge problem,” said Elizabeth Hirsch, PharmD, of the University of Minnesota, which has an Antimicrobial Stewardship Project under its Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP).

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi cause at least 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths nationally every year, according to a CDC report from November. Deaths were down 18% from 2013, but “the burden of antibiotic-resistance threats in the United States was greater than initially understood.”

Read more from MedPage Today here.