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Overuse of antibiotics in building bacteria resistant to pandemic, health agency warns

By on November 18, 2021 0

Test tubes filled with samples of bacteria to be tested are seen at the Health Protection Agency, North London, March 9, 2011. REUTERS / Suzanne Plunkett

BRASILIA, Nov. 17 (Reuters) – The overuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs during the coronavirus pandemic is helping bacteria develop resistance that will render these important drugs ineffective over time, the Pan American Organization warned on Wednesday health (OPS).

Several countries in the Americas, including Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Paraguay, report increased detection of drug-resistant infections that likely contributed to increased inpatient mortality COVID-19, the health agency said.

“We have seen the use of antimicrobials reach unprecedented levels, with potentially serious consequences,” said PAHO Director Carissa Etienne. “We are at risk of losing the drugs we rely on to treat common infections,” she said during a webcast briefing.

Antimicrobials are misused outside of hospitals, and drugs such as ivermectin and chloroquine are used as unproven treatments, even with strong evidence that they do not benefit COVID-19 patients, she said. declared.

The use of ivermectin and chloroquine has been actively promoted by some authorities in the region, such as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil.

Data from hospitals in the region shows that 90-100% of COVID-19 hospital patients received an antimicrobial as part of their treatment, while only 7% of them had a secondary infection requiring the use of these drugs. , said Etienne.

The abuse and overuse of antibiotics has long been viewed as a potential threat that could lead to the emergence of so-called superbugs resistant to existing treatments, a problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have taken the power of antimicrobials for granted,” she said, adding that it could be months or years before the full impact of their misuse and misuse. their overuse does not become evident.

There have been few new antibiotics in the pipelines of drug companies because they tend to be much less cost effective than other drugs and their use must be limited to remain effective.

“Just as we have been able to channel our collective capacity to develop COVID diagnostics and vaccines in record time, we need commitment and collaboration to develop new, affordable antimicrobials,” Etienne said.

Reporting by Anthony Boadle Editing by Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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