Background: The COVID-19 pandemic presented major challenges for critical care facilities worldwide. Infections which develop alongside or subsequent to viral pneumonitis are a challenge under sporadic and pandemic conditions; however, data have suggested that patterns of these differ between COVID-19 and other viral pneumonitides. This secondary analysis aimed to explore patterns of co-infection and intensive care unit-acquired infections (ICU-AI) and the relationship to use of corticosteroids in a large, international cohort of critically ill COVID-19 patients. Methods: This is a multicenter, international, observational study, including adult patients with PCR-confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis admitted to ICUs at the peak of wave one of COVID-19 (February 15th to May 15th, 2020). Data collected included investigator-assessed co-infection at ICU admission, infection acquired in ICU, infection with multi-drug resistant organisms (MDRO) and antibiotic use. Frequencies were compared by Pearson’s Chi-squared and continuous variables by Mann–Whitney U test. Propensity score matching for variables associated with ICU-acquired infection was undertaken using R library MatchIT using the “full” matching method. Results: Data were available from 4994 patients. Bacterial co-infection at admission was detected in 716 patients (14%), whilst 85% of patients received antibiotics at that stage. ICU-AI developed in 2715 (54%). The most common ICU-AI was bacterial pneumonia (44% of infections), whilst 9% of patients developed fungal pneumonia; 25% of infections involved MDRO. Patients developing infections in ICU had greater antimicrobial exposure than those without such infections. Incident density (ICU-AI per 1000 ICU days) was in considerable excess of reports from pre-pandemic surveillance. Corticosteroid use was heterogenous between ICUs. In univariate analysis, 58% of patients receiving corticosteroids and 43% of those not receiving steroids developed ICU-AI. Adjusting for potential confounders in the propensity-matched cohort, 71% of patients receiving corticosteroids developed ICU-AI vs 52% of those not receiving corticosteroids. Duration of corticosteroid therapy was also associated with development of ICU-AI and infection with an MDRO. Conclusions: In patients with severe COVID-19 in the first wave, co-infection at admission to ICU was relatively rare but antibiotic use was in substantial excess to that indication. ICU-AI were common and were significantly associated with use of corticosteroids. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT04836065 (retrospectively registered April 8th 2021). Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].