A group of international researchers led by the University of Washington in the United States found that more than 1.2 million people died in 2019 from infections caused by bacteria resistant to a variety of antibiotics.
Global health officials have repeatedly warned of an increase in the number of drug-resistant bacteria and other microbes due to improper and excessive use of antibiotics, which contributes to the evolution of microorganisms into a viral infection.
A new report titled “Global Antimicrobial Resistance Study,” published in The Lancet, has shown that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the direct cause of approximately 1.27 million deaths worldwide.
It is noted that this is more than the annual number of deaths from malaria (640 thousand deaths) or AIDS (860 thousand deaths). The study analyzed data from 204 countries.
Experts say that the excessive use of antibiotics in recent years to treat common infections means that they are becoming less effective against serious infections. People are dying from common, previously treatable infections because the bacteria that cause them have become resistant to treatment.
These new findings reveal the true extent of antimicrobial resistance worldwide… Previous estimates predicted 10 million annual deaths from AMR by 2050, but now we know for sure that we are already much closer to this figure than we thought,” said co-author of the study, University of Washington Professor Chris Murray.
In 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that none of the 43 antibiotics in development were sufficient to combat antimicrobial resistance.
Health officials have said antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a “hidden pandemic” that could occur after the coronavirus if antibiotics are not administered responsibly.
Cornelius Clancy, a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, said that one of the ways to combat AMR is a new treatment model.
“The traditional model of antibiotic treatment that we have followed for the last few decades, starting with penicillin. I think it has exhausted itself,” he said, noting that in the last two years the focus has been on COVID-19, but AMR is a “long-term problem.”
According to the report, the majority of deaths in 2019 were caused by drug resistance in lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia, followed by bloodstream infections and intra-abdominal infections.
The impact of AMR is currently strongest in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with approximately one in five deaths occurring in children under the age of five. Data for some regions, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, were limited, which may reduce the accuracy of the study estimates.