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A majority of Covid-19 patients that were admitted to US hospitals during the first few months of the pandemic were prescribed antibiotics even before a bacterial infection had been confirmed, a study showed on Wednesday.

The study by Pew Charitable Trusts suggests that such drugs were over-prescribed between February through July 2020, as doctors rushed to treat Covid-19 patients when treatment options were sparse.

Antibiotics do not fight viruses but are prescribed to treat secondary bacterial infections.

“Ultimately, what we’re really concerned about is what the data could mean about the long-term fight against antibiotic resistance,” said David Hyun, project director for Pew’s antibiotic resistance project.

The report, which included data from 5,838 hospital admissions, highlights the risk of prescribing antibiotics unnecessarily, which could speed up the emergence of drug-resistant ‘superbugs’.

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