President Joe Biden recently delivered his inaugural address, calling for unity and bipartisanship. One area crying out for cooperation is antibiotic resistance—a health crisis that will last long after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Each year, 162,000 Americans and about 700,000 people globally die from antibiotic-resistant infections. Those numbers will skyrocket as existing antibiotics continue to lose their effectiveness. Rampant overuse is partially culpable, but so is increased reliance due to an aging population. Each time a patient takes an antibiotic, it kills off some bacteria, but those that survive can evolve into treatment-resistant superbugs.
These superbugs threaten to send us back to the medical dark ages. Antibiotics are crucial to preventing infections during procedures ranging from elective surgery to organ transplants to the ventilation of Covid-19 patients.
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