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Antibiotic resistance causes more deaths than AIDS or malaria

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Antibiotic resistance is today one of the most serious threats to global health, food security and development, according to the World Health Organization (source 1). It leads not only to a prolongation of hospitalizations, but also to an increase in medical expenses and an increase in mortality, as confirmed by a recent report published in the journal The Lancet (source 2).

According to this study, in 2019, 1.27 million deaths were directly linked to antibiotic resistance, nearly twice as many as malaria (409,000 deaths in 2019, according to the WHO) or AIDS (720,000 deaths in 2019, according to the WHO). A number that rises to 4.95 million if we also count the deaths associated (and not directly attributed) to this phenomenon.

To our knowledge, this study provides the first comprehensive assessment of the global burden of antibiotic resistance, the authors point out.

Deaths are now occurring due to common infections, which were previously treatable but are now more complicated to manage, given that the bacteria that cause them have become resistant to treatments.

  • The six major pathogens responsible for resistance-associated deaths ( Escherichia coli , followed byStaphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa ) were responsible for 929,000 (660,000–1,270,000) AMR-attributable deaths and 3.57 million (2 62–4 78) AMR-associated deaths in 2019.
  • A pathogen-drug combination, S aureus resistant to methicillin, caused over 100,000 deaths from AMR in 2019.
  • Six other combinations each caused 50,000 to 100,000 deaths: multidrug-resistant excluding extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, E-coli third generation resistant to cephalosporins, A baumannii resistant to carbapenems, E-coli fluoroquinolone resistant, K pneumoniae carbapenem resistantand K pneumoniae resistant to third-generation cephalosporins.
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The study highlights the importance of taking action against antimicrobial resistance and recommends urgent action, such as optimization of existing use of antibiotics and theimproved infection surveillance and control.

“These new data reveal the true extent of antimicrobial resistance around the world and are a clear signal that we must act now to combat the threat,” Professor Chris Murray said.

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