Coronavirus (1246) The Pandemic Within the Pandemic

27 April, 2021

When we consider essential health services, we should not only consider what is happening now, but we should also consider the future: what will health care look like in 5 or 10 years? One of the biggest threats is widespread antimicrobial resistance. potentially causing several million deaths per year.

This news item points out that the current COVID-19 pandemic is causing a huge increase in inappropriate use of antibiotics, which is fueling the emerging global crisis of antimicrobial resistance. Extracts and a comment from me below.


NAIROBI – Fear of COVID-19 is driving increased over-the-counter (OTC) sales and in-hospital prescriptions of antibiotics – and fueling a silent pandemic in its wake.

Globally, antibiotic use in hospitals has surged since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic...

This is further fueling the global crisis of antibiotic resistance, as bacteria evolve and become immune to these drugs...

What must we do to forestall this next pandemic? For starters, the WHO and other global agencies must speak out much more strongly and explicitly against the use of antibiotics in cases of COVID-19, unless these drugs are specifically indicated for another bacterial infection.

In addition, national governments must tighten restrictions on OTC antibiotic purchases...

Hospitals should adopt so-called antibiotic stewardship strategies to reduce unnecessary prescriptions...

Finally, individuals – despite their understandable fears of COVID-19 – should not risk harming themselves by using antibiotics unnecessarily.


Comment (NPW): Even more important than the above is to ensure that all prescribers and users of medicines have access to reliable information to guide appropriate use, and *not* information that is designed to make them buy yet more antibiotics. As we keep repeating: ‘Globally, most prescribers receive most of their prescribing information from the pharmaceutical industry and in many countries this is the only information they receive.’ World Medicines Report, WHO.

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,