‘We anticipate that policymakers will use these results as we intended them, to drive action.’
A study, said to be the most ‘comprehensive assessment of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) to date,’ estimates that 1.27 million deaths each year are directly attributable to drug resistant bacterial infection. In addition, an estimated 4.95 million people who died in 2019 suffered from at least one drug resistant bacterial infection.
The paper which is published in the Lancet: Global burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in 2019: a systematic analysis, provides estimates across 204 countries and territories, as well as data for regional impacts of AMR. It also reports details of the AMR burden for 23 bacterial pathogens. The paper was authored by the Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance (GRAM) project, a partnership between the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Seattle, Washington, US and the University of Oxford, UK. The researchers add that the paper is based on ‘471 million actual and individual records, or isolates from 7585 study-location-years, with modelling that allows for comparable final estimates across all 204 countries and territories.’
While the researchers assert that everyone is at risk from AMR, the data indicates that young children are particularly affected. During 2019, one in five deaths attributable to AMR occurred in children under the age of five – often from previously treatable infections. At the same time, while past projections have estimated that as many as 10 million annual deaths from AMR could occur by 2050, this newest data indicates that the world is far closer to the estimate than expected.
The paper stresses that national leaders now have an obligation to move AMR higher up the political agenda and that research efforts should be accelerated to address knowledge and innovation gaps. The researchers highlight that between 1980 and 2000, 63 new antibiotics were approved for clinical use. However, between 2000 and 2018, only 15 additional antibiotics were approved. In addition, with high levels of hospitalisation due to covid-19, there is a risk that the burden of AMR has already accelerated due to the increased use of antibiotics. However, more evidence is needed to ascertain the true impact.
In a joint comment, members of the GRAM leadership team at the University of Oxford said: ‘This work incorporates the best available data and provides reliable evidence describing the substantial mortality and morbidity caused by AMR globally. We anticipate that policymakers will use these results as we intended them, to drive action.’