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“COVID-19 Distracts from Imminent Global Infectious-Disease Threat”

According to the CDC, nearly 3 million Americans per year contract an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection. Of those, roughly 35,000 die. Globally, approximately 700,000 die from these infections every year. The World Health Organization projects that, at current rates, around 10 million people could die from antibiotic-resistant infections annually by 2050. As bacteria become more resistant to antibiotics, the risk of catastrophic consequences increases. Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest public health challenges of our time. Antibiotic resistance leads to higher medical costs, prolonged hospital stays, and increased mortality. Because of the over prescription of antibiotics, the overuse of them in livestock, and other factors, many different kinds of bacterial infections including strains of gonorrhea, tuberculosis, and salmonella have become extremely hard, sometimes even impossible, to treat. That’s because the tiny portion of bacteria that survive these antibiotics evolve and reproduce, developing resistance. Around the world, 230,000 die each year from antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis alone. It’s increasingly likely that bacterial infections will be very difficult to treat if not untreatable. A May review found that among about 2,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients worldwide, 72% received antibiotics even though only 8% had documented bacterial or fungal infections. Experts say that the superbug crisis (“nightmare bacteria”) has been simmering along and needs to be discussed more often.

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