AMR may be worse…

  24 March 2020

The first case of someone suffering from Covid-19 can be traced back to 17 November 2019. Currently (24 March, 2020) there are over 380,000 cases worldwide. Unfortunately, almost 16,500 people have died so far. In that respect, this is a terrible pandemic that will also have far-reaching social and economic consequences.

Strange as this may sound now, the consequences of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are likely to be worse and much more far-reaching. Every day, approximately 2000 people worldwide die as a result of resistant bacteria. This means that since 17 November 2019 some 258,000 people have died from the effects of AMR. It is predicted that in 2050 many millions of people will die each year from the effects of resistant micro-organisms. It is not excluded that by that time many medical interventions that routinely require antibiotics will no longer be possible. The World Bank estimates that by 2030, due to AMR the annual global GDP may fall by 1.1 – 3.8%. Due to AMR an additional 24 million people may be forced into extreme poverty. By that time the global increases in healthcare costs may range from $300 billion to more than $1 trillion. 

My biggest fear is that after this corona pandemic comes to an end, we’ll go back to business as usual. That we forget the 2000 people who die every day from AMR. Now that we’re so intensely fighting the COVID-19, we need to keep the momentum. Many measures to contain COVID-19 can be used to combat AMR. Think of more prevention through better hygiene, and the development of new vaccines. Think of much better monitoring the use of antimicrobial agents in humans and animals. Think of fast, affordable diagnostics. Think of new antimicrobial agents and alternatives such as phage therapy. And think of much better public and professional awareness. Let us keep the momentum to combat AMR.

To quote my friend and AMR Insights Ambassador Kenyan Nkuchia M’ikanatha who wrote me last week: “The corana virus infections should subside if not disappear, but both know that drug resistant pathogens are getting stronger. They don’t blow whistles and they are more sneaky than viruses”.

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