Antimicrobial resistance now causes more deaths than HIV/AIDS and malaria worldwide – new study

Source: Jonathan Cox, The Conversation, 20 January 2022, photo credit: 123RF/parilovv

Antimicrobial resistance is spreading rapidly worldwide, and has even been likened to the next pandemic – one that many people may not even be aware is happening. A recent paper, published in Lancet, has revealed that antimicrobial resistant infections caused 1.27 millions deaths and were associated with 4.95 million deaths in 2019. This is greater than the number of people who died from HIV/AIDS and malaria that year combined.

Antimicobial resistance happens when infection-causing microbes (such as bacteria, viruses or fungi) evolve to become resistant to the drug designed to kill them. This means than an antibiotic will no longer work to treat that infection anymore.

The new findings makes it clear that antimicrobial resistance is progressing faster than the previous worst-case scenario estimates – which is of concern for everyone. The simple fact is that we’re running out of antibiotics that work. This could mean everyday bacterial infections become life-threatening again.

While antimicrobial resistance has been a problem since penicillin was discovered in 1928, our continued exposure to antibiotics has enabled bacteria and other pathogens to evolve powerful resistance. In some cases, these microbes are resistant even to multiple different drugs. This latest study now shows the current scale of this problem globally – and the harm it’s causing.
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