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Covid-19 antibiotics can make bacteria resistant to antibodies: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on August 31, 2020

The World Health Organization discourages the use of antibiotics for mild cases of Covid

According to the new study carried out by researchers from the University of Plymouth and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, the prolonged use of antibiotics in individuals can have significant ramifications.

The authors state that the use of antibiotics can make viruses and bacteria resistant to antibodies. This can also lead to environmental degradation.

“There is growing interest in the role of secondary bacterial and fungal infections as a cause of increased morbidity and mortality in Covid-19 patients, with reports of up to 95 per cent of Covid-19 inpatients being prescribed antibiotics,” the authors say.

“Concerns have been raised over the environmental implications of such a large-scale drug administration and statements made about the potential impacts of Covid-19-related antibiotic prescription on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and other toxicological effects on the environment,” they add.

Environmental impact

They further explain that environmental concentrations and impacts will be greatest where drugs are used in high volumes and are discharged into rivers with limited dilution.

Neil Powell, an author of the research and consultant pharmacist at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, said in a statement: “Common with other hospitalised patients in the UK and other countries, the majority of our patients with Covid symptoms were prescribed antibiotics because it is very difficult to know whether a patient presenting with symptoms of Covid has an overlying bacterial infection or not.”

This has further made the World Health Organization (WHO) discourage the use of antibiotics for mild cases of Covid-19. However, the organisation still recommend antibiotics for people with severe Covid-19 who have a risk of secondary bacterial infections and death.

The researchers said that the UK National Strategy aims for a world in which AMR is effectively contained, controlled and mitigated by 2040.

Published on August 31, 2020

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