Publishing the first AMR paper on Thursday, Jim has warned that antimicrobial resistance is a more certain threat than climate change in the short term, and that “failure to tackle drug-resistant infections will lead to at least 10 million extra deaths a year and cost the global economy up to $100tn by 2050.” Jim goes on to add that “to put that in context, the annual GDP [gross domestic product] of the UK is about $3tn, so this would be the equivalent of around 35 years without the UK contribution to the global economy.”
The stark figures, believed to be the first to quantify the potential impact of AMR – drug-resistant infections or superbugs – will be used to make the case to global leaders that urgent action is needed. The analysis was based on scenarios modelled by researchers Rand Europe and auditors KPMG. They looked at three bacteria – K pneumoniae, E coli and Staphylococcus aureus – out of a group of seven highlighted by the World Health Organisation, as already showing concerning resistance levels. They also examined HIV, tuberculosis and malaria as broader public health issues for which resistance is a concern.
Jim has announced that his team would now be exploring what action could be taken to avert this looming crisis. This would include looking at:
- How drug use could be changed to reduce the rise of resistance.
- How to boost the development of new drugs.
- The need for coherent international action concerning drug use in humans and animals.
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