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June 2, 2020 - The World Health Organization said the overprescribing of antibiotics for COVID-19 patients may be creating a bacterial resistance to antibiotics used to treat common infections.

WHO has increased its monitoring of antibiotic resistance, with the organization’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System now collecting data from 2 million patients in 66 nations, WHO said.

But the data “reveals that a worrying number of bacterial infections are increasingly resistant to the medicines at hand to treat them,” WHO said.

For example, the resistance rate to ciprofloxacin, an antimicrobial frequently used to treat urinary tract infections, varied from 8.4% to 92.9% in 33 reporting countries.

“WHO is concerned that the trend will further be fueled by the inappropriate use of antibiotics during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the release said. “Evidence shows that only small proportion of COVID-19 patients need antibiotics to treat subsequent bacterial infections. …”

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed the problem Monday during a news briefing in Geneva, CNN reported.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increased use of antibiotics, which ultimately will lead to higher bacterial resistance rates that will impact the burden of disease and deaths during the pandemic and beyond," he said.

WHO recently released guidance to doctors, saying they shouldn’t use antibiotics on patients with mild or moderate cases of COVid-19 unless there was a clear clinical reason to do so.

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources

World Health Organization. "Record number of countries contribute data revealing disturbing rates of antimicrobial resistance"

CNN.com. “WHO warns Covid-19 could fuel a rise in harmful antibiotic resistance around the world”
World Health Organization. “Clinical Management of COVID-19”

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