The silent pandemic: AMR as a leading cause of death worldwide

An international team of researchers conducted the largest and most comprehensive study to date on the global burden of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and estimated that 1.27 million – and potentially millions more – people died in 2019 from drug-resistant infections. That makes AMR more deadly than malaria and HIV/AIDS. A great number of these deaths are occurring due to common infections that were previously treatable, but now are not, because bacteria that cause them have become resistant to treatment.    

The study covered more than 200 countries and focused on a broad range of pathogens and drug combinations. The researchers used more than 470 million individual records obtained from a variety of sources, including previously published studies, hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, national surveillance systems, research institutes, and clinical trials.    

The analysis shows that AMR was directly responsible for an estimated 1.27 million deaths worldwide, and associated with an estimated 4.95 million deaths, in 2019.    

Most of the deaths were caused by six bacterial pathogens, and the burden of AMR mortality was highest in low- and middle-income countries. Moreover, AMR was found to be a significant threat especially to children under 5 years old.    

The report highlights an urgent need to address the problem of AMR by decision-makers and governments which should intervene with decisive measures, such as: I) optimizing the use of existing antibiotics, II) improving the actions to prevent, monitor, and control infections, III) investing more in the development of new antibiotics and treatments.