Drug resistance in lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, was the leading cause of death in 2019.
According to a new report released today, more than 1.2 million people died in 2019 from infections caused by bacteria resistant to various antibiotics, far more than HIV/AIDS or malaria. Due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, which stimulates microorganisms to evolve into "superbugs," global health officials have frequently warned about the increase of drug-resistant bacteria and other microbes. According to the new Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance report published in The Lancet, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was directly responsible for an estimated 1.27 million deaths and was associated to 4.95 million deaths. The research looked at data from 204 countries and territories. AMR's impact is presently greatest in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
"These new data reveal the true scale of antimicrobial resistance worldwide. Previous estimates had predicted 10 million annual deaths from AMR by 2050, but we now know for certain that we are already far closer to that figure than we thought," said Chris Murray, co-author of the study and a professor at the University of Washington. The World Health Organization warned last year that none of the 43 antibiotics in development or recently authorized medicines were sufficient to prevent antimicrobial resistance. Drug resistance in lower respiratory infections like pneumonia followed by bloodstream infections, and intra-abdominal infections were the leading causes of mortality in 2019.Some regions, particularly many low- and middle-income countries, had limited data availability, which could reduce the accuracy of the study's estimates.