Rates of Co-infection Between SARS-CoV-2 and Other Respiratory Pathogens

18 Apr, 2020
Last April 15th, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a research letter relating the Covid-19 infections with other respiratory diseases. 

As of April 3, 2020, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) had caused 972 303 cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and 50 322 deaths worldwide. Early reports from China suggested that co-infection with other respiratory pathogens was rare. If this were the case, patients positive for other pathogens might be assumed unlikely to have SARS-CoV-2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed testing for other respiratory pathogens, suggesting that evidence of another infection could aid the evaluation of patients with potential COVID-19 in the absence of widely available rapid testing for SARS-CoV-2. In this article, Stanford scientists report on co-infection rates between SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens in Northern California.

The results they got suggest higher rates of co-infection between SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens than previously reported, with no significant difference in rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients with and without other pathogens. The presence of a non–SARS-CoV-2 pathogen may not provide reassurance that a patient does not also have SARS-CoV-2.

The study is limited to a single region. Given limited sample size, restriction to multiply tested specimens, and spatiotemporal variation in viral epidemiology, the analysis is limited in the detection of specific co-infection patterns potentially predictive of SARS-CoV-2. Nonetheless, these results suggest that routine testing for non–SARS-CoV-2 respiratory pathogens during the COVID-19 pandemic is unlikely to provide clinical benefit unless a positive result would change disease management (eg, neuraminidase inhibitors for influenza in appropriate patients).

Click here for full article.