The fight against the invisible killer, COVID-19, is far from finished. As cases spike in states that reopened too quickly, Gov. Phil Murphy is pumping the brakes on New Jersey’s own reopening. At the end of June, the governor reversed his decision to begin allowing indoor dining.
But COVID-19 isn’t the only invisible killer we need to worry about. Drug-resistant bacteria, fungi, and other microbes — collectively known as “superbugs” — infect nearly 3 million Americans a year. And the current pandemic is making things worse since some COVID-19 patients ultimately contract these deadly superbug infections in the hospital.
Even when we get the current pandemic under control, superbugs will still pose an enormous threat to public health. Globally, drug-resistant microbes are poised to kill 10 million people a year by 2050.
Despite the severity of this threat, the pipeline of new antibiotics to combat superbugs is running dry. It’s time to strengthen our drug arsenal against this little-known invisible enemy.
Drug-resistant infections pose a critical threat to modern medicine. Every time patients use drugs to kill microbes, like bacteria or fungi, some strains survive. These surviving strains evolve and develop resistance to the treatments. Microbes have grown so resistant that bacterial pneumonia could soon be a death sentence.
Here in New Jersey, my colleagues and I have seen a terrifying rise in the number of patients battling superbugs. In fact, a deadly fungal superbug called “Candida auris” started to wreak havoc on our hospitals before anyone had heard of COVID-19. As of March 31, New Jersey had reported 165 cases of the disease, more than every state besides New York and Illinois.
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