September 7, 2022

In The News: COVID-19 Pandemic Reversed Years of Progress Against Antimicrobial Resistance

Healio shares findings from a CDC report on antimicrobial resistance during the pandemic. It shows resistant hospital-onset infections and deaths both increased by at least 15% during the first year of COVID-19. The increase in resistant infections reversed much of the progress antimicrobial prevention and control efforts had achieved over the past decade. CDC authors stress that the setback has to be temporary, and that the pandemic revealed antimicrobial resistance requires vigilance and to not let down our guard.

The report shows more than 29,400 people died from antimicrobial-resistant infections, including 40% who acquired the infection in the hospital, commonly associated with health care during the first year. Data were lacking or delayed for half of the 18 pathogens in the 2019 report, but data on seven common pathogens showed a 15% increase.

Specifically, data showed a 78% increase in carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter, a 32% increase in multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and a 13% increase in MRSA. Antifungal-resistant infections also increased during this time period. Candida auris infections rose 60%, while infections by other Candida species increased 26%.

The article points out that urgent public health efforts are needed to thwart rising antimicrobial resistance. Federal funding is urged, particularly passage of the PASTEUR Act is noted as a priority the government should act upon to safeguard public health. Antimicrobial resistance is here and must be dealt with now.

PIDS member Jason Newland commented “The increase in antimicrobial resistance is not surprising. Even before the pandemic, we were seeing multidrug resistant bacterial infections resulting in children with common infections, like urinary tract infections, requiring hospitalizations as only intravenous medications would treat the infection. The COVID-19 pandemic shifted the attention of our collective infectious diseases workforce to focus on one virus. While this shift was necessary, many of our outstanding antimicrobial stewardship pharmacists and clinicians focus was on the ever-changing therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19. The negative consequence was the lack of necessary review and discussions on how to best treat infections with or without antimicrobials. Antibiotic resistance is going to continue to increase, and it will only be faster if we don’t dedicate the time and necessary resources to ensure the best antimicrobials, if necessary, are being used at the correct time, with the correct dose for the correct duration.”

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