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AMR global health threat with considerable mortality during pandemic: study 

February 21, 2023: Study estimates association between antibiotic sales volume and Covid-19 and vaccination during the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic between 2020 and 2022.

News (AMR COVID-19) square (2)Image: freepix

In a recent study published in The Lancet’s eClinical Medicine, investigators evaluated antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as an established threat to global health, with considerable AMR-associated mortality reported globally. Researchers estimated that overuse or inappropriate use of antibiotics for viral infection and Covid-19 is a major driver of AMR worldwide.

"An estimated five million deaths worldwide were associated with AMR in 2019, of which 1.3 million deaths were directly attributable to AMR," the author writes.

The current analysis suggests that bacterial co-infections are uncommon with Covid-19, but frequent use of antibiotics in patients with Covid-19 is linked to potentially exacerbating antimicrobial resistance.

"We estimated the associations of Covid-19 cases and vaccinations with global antibiotic sales during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic," the study explains.

The report outlines that sales of all four antibiotics fell sharply during April and May 2020, followed by a gradual rise to near pre-pandemic levels through May 2022. In fixed-effects regression models, a 10 per cent increase in monthly Covid-19 cases was associated with 0.2 per cent to 0.3 per cent  higher sales of cephalosporins, 0.2 per cent to 0.3 per cent higher sales of penicillins, 0.4 per cent to 0.6 per cent higher sales of macrolides, and 0.3 per cent higher sales of all four antibiotics combined per 1,000 people.

Across continents, a 10 per cent increase in monthly Covid-19 cases was associated with 0.8 per cent, 1.3 per cent, and 1.5 per cent higher macrolide sales in Europe, North America, and Africa, respectively. Sales of other antibiotics across the continent were also positively associated with Covid-19 cases, although the estimated associations were smaller in magnitude. No consistent associations were observed between antibiotic sales and Covid-19 vaccinations. The results of pooled regression analysis were comparable to those of fixed-effects models.

Antibiotic sales were positively associated with Covid-19 cases globally during 2020–2022. The report's findings underline that antibiotic stewardship in the context of Covid-19 remains essential.

You can read the complete report here.

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