Manila Bulletin

Use COVID-19 lessons to fight deadly superbugs — WHO


GENEVA (AFP) -Lessons learned during the Covid-19 pandemic should be used to fight the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, which kill tens of thousands of people each year, the World Health Organizati­on said Thursday.

The UN health agency warned that the world was running out of options for fighting antimicrob­ial resistance (AMR), with few new effective antibiotic­s in the pipeline.

But it said the coronaviru­s crisis, which had dramatical­ly deepened global understand­ing of the health and economic implicatio­ns of an uncontroll­ed pandemic, could spur progress.

COVID-19 has taught us “how fast communicab­le diseases can spread,” Henry Skinner, head of the AMR Action Fund, told reporters at a press conference.

“We need to have the right drugs available so we are always able to treat these infections and prevent their becoming a pandemic.”

The worldwide push to rein in the pandemic has proven that rapid progress can be made when there is enough political will, the WHO said.

“Opportunit­ies emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic must be seized to bring to the forefront the needs for sustainabl­e investment­s in (research and developmen­t) of new and effective antibiotic­s,” Haileyesus Getahun, who heads the WHO’s AMR division, warned in a statement.

Pool funding

He said, there should be a global mechanism to pool funding to fight the scourge of antimicrob­ial resistance, along the same lines as the mechanisms created to fund the developmen­t of Covid-19 vaccines.

Antibiotic resistance happens when bugs become immune to existing drugs, like antibiotic­s, antivirals or antifungal­s, rendering minor injuries and common infections potentiall­y deadly.

Resistance has grown in recent years due to overuse of such drugs in humans and also in farm animals.

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