The Association between Previous Antibiotic Consumption and SARS-CoV-2 Infection: A Population-Based Case-Control Study

Matan Dugot*, Eugene Merzon, Shai Ashkenazi*, Shlomo Vinker, Ilan Green, Avivit Golan-Cohen, Ariel Israel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection is complex and not yet fully elucidated, being related to many variables; these include human microbiome and immune status, which are both affected for a long period by antibiotic use. We therefore aimed to examine the association of previous antibiotic consumption and SARS-CoV-2 infection in a large-scale population-based study with control of known confounders. Methods: A matched case–control study was performed utilizing the electronic medical records of a large Health Maintenance Organization. Cases were subjects with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (n = 31,260), matched individually (1:4 ratio) to controls without a positive SARS-CoV-2 test (n = 125,039). The possible association between previous antibiotic use and SARS-CoV-2 infection was determined by comparing antibiotic consumption in the previous 6 and 12 months between the cases and controls. For each antibiotic consumed we calculated the odds ratio (OR) for documented SARS-CoV-2 infection, 95% confidence interval (CI), and p-value using univariate and multivariate analyses. Results: The association between previous antibiotic consumption and SARS-CoV-2 infection was complex and bi-directional. In the multivariate analysis, phenoxymethylpenicillin was associated with increased rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection (OR 1.110, 95% CI: 1.036–1.191) while decreased rates were associated with previous consumption of trimethoprim-sulfonamides (OR 0.783, 95% CI: 0.632–0.971) and azithromycin (OR 0.882, 95% CI: 0.829–0.938). Fluroquinolones were associated with decreased rates (OR 0.923, 95% CI: 0.861–0.989) only in the univariate analysis. Previous consumption of other antibiotics had no significant association with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Conclusions: Previous consumption of certain antibiotic agents has an independent significant association with increased or decreased rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Plausible mechanisms, that should be further elucidated, are mainly antibiotic effects on the human microbiome and immune modulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number587
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • COVID-19
  • antimicrobial agents
  • immune modulation
  • microbiome
  • respiratory infections


Dive into the research topics of 'The Association between Previous Antibiotic Consumption and SARS-CoV-2 Infection: A Population-Based Case-Control Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this