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The invisible pandemic: Antimicrobial resistance

Graham Cope looks at how antibiotic resistant bacteria have fared during the coronavirus pandemic

In 2019 the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and particularly multi-drug resistant bacteria, was widely seen as the foremost infectious threat to mankind on a global level and has been termed the ‘Invisible pandemic’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO).1

Estimates stated that AMR could be responsible for 10 million deaths per year by 2050 if left unchecked, but the emergence and rapid spread of COVID-19 has increased the threat substantially as it has placed huge strains on the national health service and medical and social care systems around the world.2

Data from COVID-19 cases, mostly in Asia, found that more than 70% of patients received antimicrobial treatment, despite less than 10% having bacterial coinfections. The same study also found frequent use of broad-spectrum antibiotics, the overuse of which can further stimulate AMR.3

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