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researchsquare; 2021.


Introduction We examined the epidemiology of community- and hospital-acquired bloodstream infections (BSIs) in COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients across two epidemic waves. Methods We analysed blood cultures, SARS-CoV-2 tests, and hospital episodes of patients presenting and admitted to a London hospital group between January 2020 and February 2021. We reported BSI incidence, as well as changes in sampling, case mix, bed and staff capacity, and COVID-19 variants. Results 34,044 blood cultures were taken. We identified 1,047 BSIs; 653 (62.4%) defined epidemiologically as community-acquired and 394 (37.6%) as hospital-acquired. BSI rates and community / hospital ratio were similar to those pre-pandemic. However, important changes in patterns were seen. Among community-acquired BSIs, Escherichia coli BSIs remained lower than pre-pandemic level during the two COVID-19 waves, however peaked following lockdown easing in May 2020, deviating from the historical trend of peaking in August. The hospital-acquired BSI rate was 100.4 per 100,000 patient-days across the pandemic, increasing to 132.3 during the first COVID-19 wave and 190.9 during the second, with significant increase seen in elective non-COVID-19 inpatients. Patients who developed a hospital-acquired BSI, including those without COVID-19, experienced 20.2 excess days of hospital stay and 26.7% higher mortality, higher than reported in pre-pandemic literature. In intensive care units (ICUs), the overall BSI rate was 311.8 per 100,000 patient-ICU days, increasing to 421.0 during the second wave, compared to 101.3 pre-COVID. The BSI incidence in those infected with the SARS-CoV-2 Alpha variant was similar to that seen with earlier variants. Conclusion The pandemic and national responses have had an impact on patterns of community- and hospital-acquired BSIs, in both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. Factors driving the observed BSI patterns are complex, including changed patient mix, deferred access to health care, and sub-optimal practice. Infection surveillance needs to consider key aspects of pandemic response and changes in healthcare access and practice.