Study: More Than 1.2 Million People Died in 2019 From Antibiotic-Resistant Bacterial Infections Compared to HIV/AIDS, Malaria

The analysis of 204 countries and territories reveals that AMR is now a leading cause of death worldwide, which is higher than HIV/AIDS or malaria.

A recent analysis found that more than 1.2 million people died in 2019 as a direct result of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, according to a comprehensive estimate in a study of the global impact of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) recently published in The Lancet.

The analysis of 204 countries and territories reveals that AMR is now a leading cause of death worldwide, which is higher than HIV/AIDS or malaria.

The study indicates that hundreds of deaths are occurring due to common, previously treatable infections, such as lower respiratory and bloodstream infections, because of bacteria that cause them to become resistant to treatment.

The report also highlights a need to combat AMR and immediate actions for policymakers to take that will help save lives and protect health systems, such as optimizing the use of existing antibiotics and providing more funding to develop new antibiotics and treatments.

“These new data reveal the true scale of antimicrobial resistance worldwide, and are a clear signal that we must act now to combat the threat,” said study co-author professor Chris Murray, in a press release. “Previous estimates had predicted 10 million annual deaths from antimicrobial resistance by 2050, but we now know for certain that we are already far closer to that figure than we thought. We need to leverage this data to course-correct action and drive innovation if we want to stay ahead in the race against antimicrobial resistance.”

The new Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance report estimates deaths linked to 23 pathogens and 88 pathogen-drug combinations in 204 countries and territories in 2019. To produce these estimates, the researchers used statistical modeling and 471 million individual records obtained from systematic literature reviews, hospital systems, surveillance systems, and other data sources, according to the press release.

The analysis showed that AMR was directly responsible for an estimated 1.27 million deaths worldwide and associated with an estimated 4.95 million deaths in 2019. This was compared to HIV/AIDS and malaria, which were estimated to cause 860,000 and 640,000 deaths in 2019.

Although AMR poses a threat to any age group, younger children were found to be at a higher risk, with approximately 1 in 5 deaths attributable to AMR occurring in children under 5 years of age.

There were several limitations to the study, including limited availability of data for certain parts of the world and potential bias due to combining and standardizing data from a wide variety of sources in the community, according to the authors.

REFERENCE

THE LANCET: An estimated 1.2 million people died in 2019 from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, more deaths than HIV/AIDS or malaria. EurekAlert! January 19, 2022. Accessed January 21, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/940530