Experts warn of “crisis” of infection-resistant antibiotic after Covid

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria no longer respond to treatment, causing serious complications (Image: Getty)

An increase in antibiotic-resistant infections threatens to bring “another crisis” as Covid-19 restrictions decline, experts have warned.

Last year the number of drug-resistant infections decreased for the first time since 2016, but still remained higher than six years ago.

However, rates are likely to rise again as life continues to normalize, the UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) has warned.

Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat coughs, earaches and sore throats, but are also essential for treating bacterial infections that cause pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis, as well as protecting against infection during chemotherapy.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria no longer respond to treatment, causing serious complications.

Drug-resistant infections in England fell from 65,583 in 2019 to 55,384 in 2020.

The fall is likely to be because people were less socialized, there were fewer people in hospital and hand washing improved.

But the proportion of bloodstream infections that are immune to certain antibiotics has increased in the same period, which means that an increase in these infections is likely when people mix freely again.

An increase in antibiotic-resistant infections threatens to bring

Last year the number of drug-resistant infections decreased for the first time since 2016, but still remained higher than six years ago.

Fears of antibiotic-resistant infections are not new.

Experts described the problem “as a hidden pandemic” and called on people to “act responsibly” by continuing to wash their hands and only taking antibiotics when necessary.

Unnecessary taking them increases the likelihood that harmful bacteria in the body will become resistant.

Because of this, efforts have been made to reduce antibiotic prescriptions.

UKSHA said prescribing by doctors has been declining in recent years, due to a reduction in antibiotics given for respiratory infections.

A clipped shot of an unrecognizable man washing his hands in the kitchen sink at home

Hand washing is a simple, yet effective way to reduce the risk of getting sick from an infection (Image: Getty)

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser at UKHSA, said: “AMR (antimicrobial resistance) has been described as a hidden pandemic and it is important that we do not exit Covid-19 and enter another crisis.

“It is likely that Covid-19 restrictions in 2020 including enhanced infectious, preventive and control measures will also play a role in reducing antibiotic resistance and prescription.

“Although these measures have been severe, serious antibiotic-resistant infections will increase again if we do not act responsibly and this can be as simple as regular and thorough hand washing.

“As we go into winter, with increasing amounts of respiratory infections circulating, it’s important to remember that antibiotics aren’t needed for a lot of cold symptoms.

‘Stay home if you’re ill.

“Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them only puts you and your loved ones at greater risk in the future, so please listen to the advice of your doctor, nurse, dentist or pharmacist.”

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