superbug antibiotic resistance – more reason to install an antibacterial screen protector to your device!
Back in 2013, the UK’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies started warning the world that antibiotic resistance posed a deadly threat to humanity. But, she believes, that her lack of hard data meant few people took her seriously.
Led by City economist Jim O’Neill in consultation with climate change author Nicholas Stern, Davies’s report showed 700,000 people dying around the world from drug resistant infections every year – 5,000 of them in the UK, where antibiotic resistant mutations of the E Coli bugs found in every human gut are the number one killer.
“Those death rates will rise to ten million every year by 2050 unless we take action,” she warns. “That’ll cost the world economy between $60-$100 trillion every year – roughly the size of the UK economy, wiping out growth across the world.”
Although there’s US, UK and European Union government funding available the amounts are tiny compared to cancer research funding. “The issue is so much bigger and more complex than cancer,” Davies says. “For one thing, those cancer drugs don’t work without antibiotic support.”
Her report, she believes, may help solve this. “One problem has been that drug companies fear new drugs will be kept as a drug of last resort by the WHO, making them unprofitable,” she explains. “But 700,000 people are dying every year. We’re at the weapon of last resort stage now. Something that treats 700,000 people every year is a profitable drug.”
It’s not just drug research that she’s enthused by. Everything from materials science – like Outbreaker Solutions Inc’s bacteria-killing door handle covers made of compressed salt blocks, to bubbles that can carry drugs through the body and, using ultrasound, disperse to dispense antibiotics only at the point of infection.
“This year we’ve seen wave powered energy delivered for less than nuclear powered energy. Climate change started with fear and then became a hugely profitable renewables industry. With superbugs, anyone who can solve the problem of hygiene in hospitals and agriculture will have a billion dollar business.”
Until then, Davies is travelling the world to raise the profile of the issue. “You need to retell everyone every five years,” she explains. “Social media can help but you just need to tell people and tell them again and tell them again to keep awareness high. That’s how we’ll get everyone on board – government, industry, the health service, farmers and the public.”
Article credit to Stephen Armstrong @wired.co.uk
Posted by clear-diamond