Antibiotic resistance warning: ‘Unnecessary’ prescriptions could create surge in superbugs
How bacteria becomes RESISTANT to antibiotics
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Dr Antonia Ho, from the University of Glasgow, came to this conclusion when her research team found that more than a third of Covid inpatients were prescribed antibiotics before being admitted to hospital in the UK. The study – published in The Lancet scientific journal – stated that 85 percent of 48,902 Covid hospital patients had been prescribed antibiotics. The research also noted that the vast majority of Covid patients did not need or benefit from antibiotics.
At the time, when Covid was still being likened to the flu in some circles, it was commonplace to treat flu patients with antibiotics.
This is because around one in four patients with severe flu have bacterial co-infections, the Daily Mail reported.
Dr Ho mentioned that “co-infection is really rare” in Covid patients, so they’re less prone to bacterial infections.
As “antimicrobial resistance remains one of the biggest public health challenges of our time”, Dr Ho has put forward suggestions to medical staff.
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“If you have a suspicion take blood cultures and send them to a lab. It’s about using antibiotics more intelligently.”
What is antibiotic resistance?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) explained: “Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections.”
Antibiotic resistance does occur naturally as bacteria changes in response to the use of medicines.
However, the “misuse of antibiotics in humans and animals is accelerating the process”.
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This results in “non-resistant bacteria” that cause infections in humans and animals that are harder to treat.
“Antibiotic resistance leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality [i.e. death],” said the WHO.
A growing list of infections are becoming harder and sometimes impossible to treat as antibiotics become less effective.
“Without urgent action, we are heading for a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries can once again kill,” the WHO pointed out.
A research partner of Dr Ho, Professor Calum Semple stated that Covid is a “viral disease”.
“It’s not uncommon for viral diseases to be complicated by bacterial infection, but we’re not seeing that very much [with Covid],” he said.
“We are seeing more antibiotics used than we would like… some viruses, which are quite common… need a bacteria to cause a lot of damage.
“We have to realise that coronavirus is a nasty little virus and it alone is enough to make you very very sick and kill you. You don’t have to have a secondary bacterial infection on board.”
Dr Ho explained that at the time of the first Covid wave, patients were coming into hospital who had X-rays showing white spots on both of their lungs.
“Before Covid you would prescribe antibiotics [in that scenario],” she added.
It was usually a “really high” sign of “infection markers” but as time has gone on, medics have realised that Covid hardly presents with a bacterial co-infection.
The overuse of antibiotics in daily life is creating the “perfect storm” for a post-antibiotic era where infections will be nearly impossible to treat.
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