This will further aggravate the problem of multi-drug resistant bacteria.
The increased use of antibiotics to combat the Covid-19 pandemic not only reinforces bacterial resistance but will ultimately lead to more deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
« ONE OF THE MOST PRESSING CHALLENGES OF OUR TIME »
Earlier this month, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that a “disturbing number” of bacterial infections are becoming increasingly resistant to the drugs traditionally used to treat them. According to the United Nations Health Agency, the inappropriate use of antibiotics during the health crisis will largely fuel this trend.
« The Covid-19 pandemic has led to increased use of antibiotics, which will ultimately lead to higher rates of bacterial resistance that will impact on the burden of disease and mortality during the health crisis and beyond,» Ghebreyesus said.
WHO recalled that only a small proportion of patients with Covid-19 require antibiotics to treat possible bacterial infections, and warned doctors not to provide antibiotic or prophylactic treatment to patients with a mild form of the virus, or with disease « without clinical suspicion of bacterial infection ». Adherence to these guidelines should help combat antimicrobial resistance, which is « one of the most urgent challenges of our time,» while saving lives.
« It is clear that the world is losing its capacity to use critically important antimicrobial drugs,» Ghebreyesus said, pointing to their overuse in some countries and their unavailability in others, particularly in low-income countries where they are vital.
THE PANDEMIC HAS PROFOUNDLY DISRUPTED THE PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF MANY DISEASES
A survey of 155 countries also shows that the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases have been severely disrupted since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, low-income countries are the most affected. A situation considered “of great concern” by WHO, given that people living with such diseases are more likely to develop life-threatening complications if they become infected with the coronavirus.
The three-week survey in May showed that 53 per cent of countries reported partial or total disruption of treatment services for hypertension, 49 per cent for the treatment of diabetes and related complications, 42 per cent for cancer treatment and 31 per cent for cardiovascular emergencies.
Among the most common reasons for interruption or reduction of these services were cancellation of planned treatments, lack of available public transportation, and lack of staff reassigned to handle Covid-19 cases.
THE DANGER OF MASS GATHERINGS
The WHO also warned of the dangers of mass gatherings, as protests rage in the United States following the death of George Floyd, and sports events are beginning to resume tentatively. According to Ghebreyesus, such events risk accelerating the spread of the virus.
« With the increase in mass gatherings of people, especially in areas where the virus is not under control, this close contact can be a risk,» said US epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove, stressing that a « very serious and rigorous risk assessment » should be undertaken.
« Physical distancing remains a very important aspect of controlling Covid-19 transmission. This is far from over,» the scientist concluded.
Source : The Guardian