Secondary infections in patients hospitalized with COVID-19: incidence and predictive factors

COVID-BioB study group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The aim of our study was to describe the incidence and predictive factors of secondary infections in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Methods: This was a cohort study of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at IRCCS San Raffaele Hospital between 25th February and 6th April 2020 (NCT04318366). We considered secondary bloodstream infections (BSIs) or possible lower respiratory tract infections (pLRTIs) occurring 48 hours after hospital admission until death or discharge. We calculated multivariable Fine–Gray models to assess factors associated with risk of secondary infections. Results: Among 731 patients, a secondary infection was diagnosed in 68 patients (9.3%); 58/731 patients (7.9%) had at least one BSI and 22/731 patients (3.0%) at least one pLRTI. The overall 28-day cumulative incidence was 16.4% (95%CI 12.4–21.0%). Most of the BSIs were due to Gram-positive pathogens (76/106 isolates, 71.7%), specifically coagulase-negative staphylococci (53/76, 69.7%), while among Gram-negatives (23/106, 21.7%) Acinetobacter baumanii (7/23, 30.4%) and Escherichia coli (5/23, 21.7%) predominated. pLRTIs were caused mainly by Gram-negative pathogens (14/26, 53.8%). Eleven patients were diagnosed with putative invasive aspergillosis. At multivariable analysis, factors associated with secondary infections were low baseline lymphocyte count (≤0.7 versus >0.7 per 109/L, subdistribution hazard ratios (sdHRs) 1.93, 95%CI 1.11–3.35), baseline PaO2/FiO2 (per 100 points lower: sdHRs 1.56, 95%CI 1.21–2.04), and intensive-care unit (ICU) admission in the first 48 hours (sdHR 2.51, 95%CI 1.04–6.05). Conclusions: Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 had a high incidence of secondary infections. At multivariable analysis, early need for ICU, respiratory failure, and severe lymphopenia were identified as risk factors for secondary infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-457
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Bacterial infections
  • Bloodstream infections
  • COVID-19
  • Fungal infections
  • Lower respiratory tract infections
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Secondary infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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