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.
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.