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Superbugs could trigger health crisis worse than Covid, experts warn

SUPERBUGS could trigger a health crisis worse than Covid, experts warn.

Medicine-dodging bacteria already infect 50,000 to 70,000 Brits a year and cause a million deaths globally.

Superbugs could trigger a health crisis worse than Covid, experts warnCredit: Getty - Contributor

Efforts to slow the problem have stalled because ministers and scientists switched their focus to Covid.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, of the University of Edinburgh, told MPs: “I think we’re in the quite advanced stages of a global public health emergency.

“The issue is that this emergency, unlike Covid-19, is a slow-burner. It’s one that accumulates over decades.”

Common infections are developing antimicrobial resistance, known as AMR, because they are exposed to so many antibiotics.



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Widespread drug use in farm animals and health patients allow bugs to adapt and survive.

It means first-choice antibiotics may stop working and doctors will have fewer options.

Lord Jim O’Neill, author of a government report, added: “The health and economic damage from AMR could be much worse than Covid if we don’t treat it more seriously.

“From what I can see there is hugely stalled attention despite endless talk on this in most parts of the world.”

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Illnesses getting harder to treat include E.coli, MRSA, C.diff – and the STI gonorrhoea.

Around 2,500 people in the UK already die of untreatable infections each year.

Medics fear the toll will rise and the risk will make surgeries and cancer treatments too risky for people with weak immune systems.

Professor Alison Holmes, from Imperial College London, told the Commons’ Science and Technology Committee: “The impact on what we can do in terms of healthcare is a major challenge.

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“Whether it’s to be able to deliver safe surgery or appropriate immunosuppressive therapy.

“Also simple, regular, clinical interventions would be completely threatened and undermined.”