Tackling antimicrobial resistance in the COVID-19 pandemic
Antimicrobials have enabled medical advancements over several decades. However, the continuous emergence of resistance to antimicrobials restricts our ability to treat diseases and curbs efforts to achieve universal health coverage and the health-related sustainable development goal. Antimicrobial resistance is a neglected global crisis that requires urgent attention and action.
Appropriate prescription and optimized use of antimicrobials guide the principles of antimicrobial stewardship activities, together with quality diagnosis and treatment, and reduction and prevention of infections. During the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic there are potential threats that could affect antimicrobial stewardship activities and drive antimicrobial resistance. For instance, many individuals presenting with mild disease without pneumonia or moderate disease with pneumonia receive antibiotics. A review of studies published on hospitalized COVID-19 patients identified that while 72% (1450/2010) of patients received antibiotics, only 8% (62/806) demonstrated superimposed bacterial or fungal co-infections. WHO also reports that azithromycin is being widely used with hydroxychloroquine although it is not yet recommended outside of COVID-19 clinical trials.
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