Scientists Warn Against Antibiotics Use in COVID-19 Treatment

  09 May 2020

Healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients have been urged to be prudent in prescribing antibiotics because of the danger of increasing resistance to the treatment.

The call was made by UKZN’s Professor Sabiha Essack, who is the South African Research Chair in Antibiotic Resistance and One Health, and collaborating scientists, Dr Ariel Blocker of France and Dr Maarten van Dongen of The Netherlands.

The three, who are part of the international Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Insights Ambassador Network, have expressed concern around the inappropriate use of antibiotics to treat COVID-19 patients, which can lead to antibiotic resistance.

‘The causal relationship between inappropriate antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance is well established in both hospital and community settings,’ said Essack. ‘ It is therefore essential that all healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients, implement diagnostic stewardship/microbial diagnostics and exercise prudence in prescribing antibiotics so as not to unintentionally exacerbate antibiotic resistance.’

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) coronavirus is an infectious disease caused by the newly discovered COVID-19. ‘Most people infected with the virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Those more likely to develop serious illness include the older population and those with underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer.’

There are no specific vaccines or treatments for the virus available yet although a variety of clinical trials are underway throughout the world. As such, healthcare providers have been using anti-retrovirals, anti-malarials and antibiotics either singly or in combination to manage COVID-19 patients. According to Essack and team, there is currently minimal robust evidence to support their use.

Author(s): MaryAnn Francis
Healthy Animals  


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