Incidence of Candidemia Is Higher in COVID-19 versus Non-COVID-19 Patients, but Not Driven by Intrahospital Transmission

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There is scarce information on the actual incidence of candidemia in COVID-19 patients. In addition, comparative studies of candidemia episodes in COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients are heterogeneous. Here, we assessed the real incidence, epidemiology, and etiology of candidemia in COVID-19 patients, and compared them with those without COVID-19 (2020 vs. 2019 and 2020, respectively). We also genotyped all C. albicans, C. parapsilosis, and C. tropicalis isolates (n = 88), causing candidemia in both groups, providing for the first time a genotypic characterization of isolates gathered in patients with either COVID-19 or non-COVID-19. Incidence of candidemia was higher in patients with COVID-19 than non-COVID-19 (4.73 vs. 0.85 per 1000 admissions; 3.22 vs. 1.14 per 10,000 days of stay). No substantial intergroup differences were found, including mortality. Genotyping proved the presence of a low number of patients involved in clusters, allowing us to rule out rampant patient-to-patient Candida transmission. The four patients, involved in two clusters, had catheter-related candidemia diagnosed in the first COVID-19 wave, which demonstrates breaches in catheter management policies occurring in such an overwhelming situation. In conclusion, the incidence of candidemia in patients with COVID-19 is significantly higher than in those without COVID-19. However, genotyping shows that this increase is not due to uncontrolled intrahospital transmission.