‘Second Pandemic’: Antibiotic resistance is growing worldwide


January 22, 2022 – Even before COVID-19 pandemic, we were all there. You wake up with a bad feeling – a headache, a scratching in the throat, cough – and find the energy to go to your doctor. What you really want is validation – yes, something is happening – and a recipe that will get the disease out of you in a day or two, at most.

Then the doctor uses the word “V”. They tell you fast strep the test was negative, so you probably have a virus. Instead of a strong antibiotic, you need rest, fluids and time for the body to fight the infection.

You go home depressed – why can’t I get an antibiotic, just in case? what’s the harm

More than 1.2 million deaths worldwide in 2019 alone: ​​This is a serious estimate in the largest study to date addressing the growing public health challenge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Researchers from UCLA, the University of Washington and other leading institutions have worked together on an ambitious study to examine the number of deaths from bacterial antimicrobial resistance (AMR) worldwide.

In the past, bacteria would go extinct and the infection would clear up because antibiotics worked as a machine to kill bacteria. Unfortunately, due to the overuse of antibiotics and other things, these machines are failing.

Now, many common antibiotics no longer work well against some of the most common – and in some cases the most serious – bacterial infections.

“If left unchecked, the spread of AMR could make many bacterial pathogens much more deadly in the future than they are today,” the researchers note. study, posted online on Thursday at Lancet.

Worse, there is no financial incentive for pharmaceutical companies to develop new antibiotics to take their place. Many antibiotics have been on the market for so long that you can get them as cheap generic drugs. This means that companies are likely to lose money, not make money, on new drugs.

How can the average American make a difference? Do not insist on an antibiotic in the doctor’s office when it is not recommended. Choose meat without antibiotics in the store. Practice good hand hygiene to prevent getting sick. And realize that even if we make a breakthrough against AMR in the U.S., the challenge is even greater in low- and middle-income countries.

Millions of lives already lost

Experts studied antibacterial resistance in 204 countries and territories around the world and estimated that 1.27 million deaths could have been prevented in 2019.

Even more deaths could have been prevented that year from turning these resistant infections into no infections at all. Research shows that nearly 5 million people worldwide could still be alive.

Based on the figures in this study, AMR is now the leading cause of death worldwide. For example, antimicrobial resistance has killed more people HIV or malaria in 2019.

West sub-Saharan Africa had the highest mortality rate in the study. In contrast, the region, which includes Australia and New Zealand, had the fewest deaths.

Fighting resistance requires work

For a study of millions of deaths, it wasn’t all doom. Experts have suggested five strategies that could improve the situation.

For example, doctors will constantly strive to avoid prescribing unnecessary antibiotics; agricultural companies must minimize the use of antibiotics in chicken, beef and other livestock; and pharmaceutical companies need something to pay off their time and effort to develop new drugs.

Governments and private organizations will also need to increase funding for research into new antibiotics and another word “V” – vaccines, said researcher Kevin Ikuta, MD, clinical professor of medicine at UCLA.

Of the six most troubling bacteria, only one – Streptococcus pneumoniae – has a vaccine available to prevent infection.

More vaccines are in the pipeline, but for now people remain vulnerable to the other five main culprits: Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The study reveals that each of these bacteria responsible for more than 250,000 AMR-related deaths.

Want to narrow down your anxiety to the most dangerous pair of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the 88-combination bacteria the researchers studied? They identified methicillin resistance S. aureus (MRSA) as the cause of the largest number of deaths from AMR – more than 100,000 deaths in 2019 alone.

How does COVID-19 appear?

In one editorial in The Lancet was published at the same time as the study, Ramanan Laxminarayan, Ph.D., called antimicrobial resistance an “overlooked pandemic.”

“While COVID-19 is raging, the antimicrobial resistance pandemic continues in the shadows. The effect of AMR on patients and their families is largely invisible, but is reflected in prolonged bacterial infections that prolong hospital stays and cause unnecessary deaths,” Laxminarayan wrote. economist and epidemiologist from the Global Partnership for Antibiotic Research and Development in Geneva, Switzerland.

There is a direct link between COVID-19 and AMR, said Vance Fowler, MD. asked to comment on the study. When someone with COVID-19 is hospitalized for an extended period of time, for example, they are also more likely to get a resistant bacterial infection.

Experts call it “super infections”.

Lancet the report is likely to “draw more attention to AMR, especially since so many people have interfered with COVID, and rightly so. The world has had its hands full with COVID,” said Fowler, a professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, NC .

AMR-related deaths show that more needs to be done to control and prevent infections, he said. Monitoring hotspots around the world will allow for better targeting of resources.

Asked if there was reason for hope or optimism at the moment, Ikuta said: “Definitely. We know what needs to be done to combat the spread of resistance. COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of global commitment to infection control measures such as hand washing and surveillance , and rapid investment in treatments, all of which can be applied to antimicrobial resistance. “


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