The coronavirus pandemic could lead to a “sharp rise” in antimicrobial resistance due to the widespread use of antibiotics as treatments, microbiologists from Queen’s University Belfast have warned.

In a new paper, the scientists highlight how nearly all severe COVID-19 patients are being treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics, which not only may have limited results, but are also associated with higher mortality.

They also warn that potentially fatal bacterial respiratory infections may arise subsequently or coincidentally from hospital stays or from therapies given to treat coronavirus patients.

This comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) recently revealed that a record number of countries are recording “disturbing” rates of antimicrobial resistance.

“Our research suggests that bacterial infection alongside the virus is likely to make the COVID-19 worse, although we don’t yet know the true extent,” said Dr Connor Bamford, virologist at the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s University.

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