Lessons learnt tackling COVID-19 can be used in global AMR response: Report

Increased investment, availability and accessibility of health infrastructure and global cooperation key to tackling AMR, it says 

By Deepak Bhati
Published: Friday 20 November 2020

The world could use the lessons learnt during the ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in tackling the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), a report released this week has concluded.

The most important linkage between COVID-19 and AMR was that both were pandemics, the authors of Learning from Covid-19 to tackle antibiotic resistance, said.

Timely access to appropriate antibiotics would be an important component of preparedness and response during a future pandemic.

It could also lead to an upsurge of antibiotic prescriptions as had been seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, the report by non-profit Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, said.

The report identified key lessons and provided five concrete measures to strengthen overall responses to AMR that focussed on the urgency to address the silent pandemic.

The authors emphasised on the need of increasing investments, developing robust surveillance frameworks and making better treatment available. They also urged the development of new diagnostics, medicines and vaccines.

Substantial and sustainable public funding, accompanied by significant private investment was needed to address global health priorities. COVID-19 had significantly highlighted the need for an overall increase in health and research budget allocation across the globe.

Equitable access to diagnostics, treatments and vaccines should be the key for future pandemic preparedness as pandemics could affect everyone.

Governments also needed to work towards ensuring robust supply chains and stockpiling critical countermeasures to ensure better access and outreach. 

Expanding a global framework to align with the One Health perspective was a key dimension, the authors said.

This was because resistant bacteria arising in humans, animals or the environment might spread from one to the other and from one country to another.

This would require improved collaboration and coordination, an understanding of the evolution of resistance in different settings and efficient testing of vaccines and treatments.

The report also mentioned that solutions pioneered by low- and middle-income countries should be promoted and integrated into pandemic preparedness and response.

This should happen alongside supporting them to bolster health expenditure and pandemic response.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the need to strengthen health infrastructure and ensure worldwide, equitable access to treatments, diagnostics and vaccines,” Manica Balasegaram, executve director, GARDP, said in a press statement made to mark the release of the report.

“Particularly critical to tackling drug-resistant infections is the One Health concept, recognising the importance of connecting the health of people to both the health of animals and our shared environment,” he added.

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