There were nearly 150 serious infections a day in England last year that did not respond to antibiotics – with experts warning that “we are already seeing the emergence of resistance” to even the latest drugs.
caused by infection antibiotic resistant bacteria Health officials say it is “killing thousands” of people in the UK every year and it is not a problem “that we can ignore”.
Figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) show there will be an average of 148 serious antibiotic-resistant infections every day in 2021, a 2.2% increase on the previous pandemic year (53,985, up from 52,842).
The overall number of infections remains below pre-pandemic levels, but the UKHSA said this was driven by factors such as reduced social activity and extra handwashing.
The use of antibiotics, which contribute to antimicrobial resistance (AMR), also fell by 15% between 2017 and 2021.
AMR occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites mutate and no longer respond to the drugs designed to treat them, including antibiotics.
This makes the disease difficult to treat and increases the risk of disease transmission, cause serious illness and death.
Antibiotic resistance occurs naturally, but overuse of antibiotics can accelerate the process.
Professor Dame Jenny Harries, chief executive of UKHSA, said: “Antibiotic resistance is not a distant problem that we can ignore.
“Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria kill thousands of people each year in this country and globally, and have enormous economic impact.
“If we start from COVID-19 Pandemic, this is a critical time for continued focus on the ‘silent pandemic’ of antibiotic resistance. “
Professor Susan Hopkins, UKHSA Chief Medical Adviser, said: “We are already seeing resistance to our newest antibiotics – innovation can only lead to new treatments if the antibiotics we have are used responsibly.
“The overuse of antibiotics will mean they will not be able to fight life-threatening diseases such as sepsis.
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“Antibiotics won’t help relieve cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms – trust your healthcare professional, take antibiotics only as prescribed, never share them with others, and don’t save them for later use.
“Taking antibiotics when you don’t need them puts you and your loved ones at risk for incurable infections in the future.”