The alert from the World Health Organization (WHO) is delivered in a report showing that none of the 43 antibiotics in development today sufficiently addresses the growing threat posed by 13 priority drug-resistant bacteria.
“The persistent failure to develop, manufacture, and distribute effective new antibiotics is further fuelling the impact of antimicrobial resistance and threatens our ability to successfully treat bacterial infections,” said Dr. Hanan Balkhy, WHO Assistant Director General on antimicrobial resistance.
Those most at risk are young children and those living in poverty, but antibiotic-resistant infections can affect anyone, said WHO partner AMR.
According to WHO, three in 10 newborns who develop blood infections die, because the antibiotics that are used to treat sepsis are no longer effective.
Bacterial pneumonia – another preventable illness which has developed resistance to available drugs – is also a major cause of childhood mortality among under-fives.
WHO’s annual Antibacterial Pipeline Report, notes that almost all antibiotics available today are variations of those discovered by the 1980s.
We rely hugely on them in all areas of our lives, from having a tooth out at the dentist, to organ transplants and cancer chemotherapy.
But after reviewing antibiotics that are in the clinical stages of testing, as well as those in development, the report highlighted a “near static pipeline” of production, which WHO’s Haileyesus Getahun likened to the “Achilles heel” of global health security.
“Opportunities emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic must be seized to bring to the forefront the needs for sustainable investments in research and development of new and effective antibiotics,” said Mr. Getahun, WHO Director of Antimicrobial Resistance Global Coordination.
“We need a global sustained effort including mechanisms for pooled funding and new and additional investments to meet the magnitude of the antimicrobial threat.”