Antibiotic-resistant superbacteria tripled in pandemic

The increase in the consumption of antibiotics during the Covid-19 pandemic caused the number of detections of superbugs resistant to these drugs to triple in Brazil. The results published this Monday (6) are from a survey by the Oswaldo Cruz Institute (IOC/Fiocruz).

According to the study data, in 2019 just over a thousand cases of antibiotic-resistant bacteria were sent by laboratories for analysis at Fiocruz. By 2020, the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of positive samples had risen to nearly 2,000. In 2021, just until October, the index exceeds 3,700 confirmed samples.


“During the pandemic, there was an increase in the volume of patients hospitalized in serious condition and for long periods, who are at higher risk of hospital infection. There has also been an increase in the use of antibiotics, which increases the selective pressure on bacteria. It is a scenario that favors the spread of resistance, further aggravating a problem with a high impact on public health”, says the head of the Hospital Infection Research Laboratory, Ana Paula Assef.

Photo: Gutemberg Brito (IOC/Fiocruz)

Superbacteria during the Covid-19 pandemic

The National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) released a note in August calling for precautions against the spread of superbugs. The agency reinforced at the time that antibiotics do not fight the virus and should only be used against bacterial infections resulting from the infection.

“In part, the increase in antibiotic prescriptions in hospitals during the pandemic can be explained by the greater number of hospitalized patients who end up developing secondary infections and needing these drugs. However, excessive use needs to be controlled to avoid boosting bacterial resistance”, adds Ana Paula.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that, in 2050, around 10 million people should die annually from superbugs. With the Covid-19 pandemic, the agency said it is already reviewing this position and that the number should potentially be higher.

“There are bacteria living in our bodies, animals and the environment. Whenever we use antibiotics, in healthcare facilities, at home or in agriculture, we increase the selective pressure on these microorganisms. This speeds up the emergence and spread of resistance, as the bacteria manage to transmit the resistance mechanisms to each other”, explains the doctor.

“It is important for people to understand that antibiotics only work against bacteria and have no effect against viruses or any other microorganism. Antibiotics cannot be taken by an acquaintance or family member. For these medications to remain effective, they must be used judiciously, with a prescription only. The patient needs to follow the prescription unrestrictedly, with the exact amount of dose and duration of administration”, he concludes.

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She's our PC girl, so anything is up to her. She is also responsible for the videos of Play Crazy Game, as well as giving a leg in the news.

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