Professor Ray Borrow, Chair of the GMI said: “Each year, antibiotic-resistant diseases are responsible for at least 700,000 deaths globally; a figure that is set to increase. A sustained effort is required to contain this global public health crisis. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global challenge that has understandably dominated healthcare systems and economies over the past two years.”
“COVID-19 may have additional impact on existing public health threats. The pandemic may be exacerbating antibiotic resistance, which is alarming in the case of meningitis, given growing concerns about the increased prevalence of antibiotic-resistant meningococcal strains, particularly in the Asia-Pacific Region.”
The report explains that broad-spectrum antibiotics are frequently and pre-emptively prescribed for patients with COVID-19 to limit bacterial co-infection or secondary infection. However, such practices may lead to antibiotic overuse and promote resistance. The experts highlight the importance of tracking the impact of antibiotic resistance on treatments for life-threatening diseases, including IMD.
Linda Glennie, Director of Research, Evidence and Policy said: “Antibiotic resistant strains of meningococcal bacteria could present an increasing threat to the treatment of meningitis. This makes the prevention of meningococcal disease ever important. It is therefore encouraging to see that despite the significant challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, progress in the development of new vaccines has continued; with vaccines against meningococcal ABCWY and ACWYX now in late stage clinical trials.”