An analysis of postmortem samples from the “Spanish flu” pandemic of 1918 to 1919 highlighted that secondary bacterial infections caused the majority of deaths. This, of course, was the pre-antibiotic era.

The three authors of the 2008 analysis — including NIAID chief Anthony Fauci — prophesied that when a viral pathogen reminiscent of that epoch rears its ugly head again, antibiotics will be as crucial to the arsenal of defense as antiviral therapies and viral vaccines.

With the scourge of the new coronavirus enveloping the world, that time is here. But there is an added layer of complexity: burgeoning antibiotic resistance. And as it stands, the industry players developing antibiotics are fast dwindling, and the pipeline for new antibiotics is embarrassingly sparse.

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