SAPG work shows decline in community prescribing of antibiotics during pandemic

SAPG has published what may be the first national evaluation of community prescribing of antibiotics during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The work, carried out in collaboration with colleagues in National Service Scotland, shows that after an initial surge in the early weeks of lockdown in late March, the total number of prescriptions for antibiotics commonly used for respiratory infections fell.

Following concerns about potential increased antibiotic use during the pandemic, SAPG looked at the prescription electronic messaging system used in GP practices with NHS contracts to examine near real-time data available via the national data mart.

The study, which has been published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy - Antibiotic Resistance (JAC - Antibiotic Resistance), looked at weekly number of prescriptions for antibiotics generated by prescribers in GP practices in 2020 compared with 2019. The number of prescriptions for respiratory antibiotics reduced through April and May 2020, with 34% fewer prescriptions issued by end of Week 22 (31 May) than in the corresponding week in 2019. Reductions were pronounced in all age groups but particularly apparent for prescriptions for children aged 0–4 years. Reductions were not seen for antibiotics used for other types of infection. SAPG continues to track this data on a weekly basis and reductions in use of respiratory antibiotics have been maintained.

This work is part of SAPG’s ongoing contribution to NHSScotland’s fight against the pandemic. It follows on from publication of another piece of work which analysed antibiotic prescribing in hospitals in April 2020.


Read the paper on community antibiotic prescribing

Read the paper on hospital antibiotic prescribing

Back to latest updates