EACH year about 700,000 people around the world die due to drug-resistant infections. These infections kill because the infections cannot be cured.
The actual figure could be much higher because there is no global system to monitor deaths due to drug-resistant infections.
And there has been trouble tracking those deaths in places where they are monitored, like in the US, where tens of thousands of deaths have not been attributed to superbugs, according to a Reuters investigation.
In Britain, currently there are 44,000 deaths from sepsis (when an infection cannot be stopped) every year — many of which are due to antibiotic-resistant infections.
According to a 2018 report published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, superbugs are killing about 33,000 people in Europe every year.
Data cited in 2017 indicate that each year, resistant bacteria claim the lives of 23,000 people in the US and more than 63,000 babies in India. Beyond those deaths, bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics cause millions of illnesses — 2 million annually just in the US.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) — which advises the World Health Organisation (WHO) on public health initiatives — millions of people in Europe, North America and Australia will die from superbug infections unless countries prioritise fighting the growing threat posed by bacteria immune to most known drugs.
Previously, a UK Government review into antimicrobial resistance commissioned in 2014 had found that if left untreated, antibiotic resistance could lead to 10 million deaths a year worldwide by 2050 — costing the world roughly $1.3 trillion.
“If we don’t act now, any one of us could go into hospital in 20 years for minor surgery and die because of an ordinary infection that can’t be treated by antibiotics” — England’s Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies
“We’re heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which many common infections will no longer have a cure and [will] once again kill unabated”— World Health Organisation