In a recent major international medical conference, health authorities and researchers from the UK warned that the world is facing “an antibiotic apocalypse” because of the rapid spread of antibiotic resistance and the dearth of new drugs to take the place of the ones that no longer work.
(Actually, the warning was about antimicrobial resistance in general, not just antibiotic resistance, because we are also beginning to see wide spread of resistant fungal and viral infections but so far bacterial resistance remains by far the gravest threat).
And if you think this may just mean no antibiotic for your sore throat, think again because among many dangers stemming from antibiotic reesistance, these experts warned especially about routine operations – joint replacements, C sections, even appendectomies – that will soon be “at risk” because these procedures often depend on the use of antibiotics.
That’s on top, of course, of more complex operations such as transplants and some cancer surgery.
On the ubiquitous other hand, however, at a nearly simultaneously-held conference in San Diego, a symposium that attracted wide attention concerned 10 new antibiotics that according to the symposium presenters will likely soon be available for commercial use.
In fact, the symposium trumpeted the claim that the “antibiotic pipeline is robust” (although, even if that’s truly the current state, if we abuse these new antibiotics the same way we’ve abused our old ones, the new ones will soon be much less useful, too).
So whom do you believe?
I for one tend to be more in the corner of the British Cassandras, but time alone will tell which side was right.