Superbugs "could kill 10 million people a year by 2050": report
LONDON, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Superbugs, which become increasingly resistant to antibiotics the more they are exposed to them, could kill 10 million people a year by 2050 unless action is taken to tackle them, according to a report published Thursday by a group led by renowned British economist Jim O'Neill.
If a strain of bacteria carries several drug-resistant genes it is known as a "superbug," which has become a major global health threat.
Antibiotic drugs are becoming less effective and the world is not developing enough new ones to keep up, said the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance commissioned by the British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Commercial Secretary to UK's Treasury O'Neill told Xinhua: "We could have 10 million people around the world dying -- today it is about 700,000 -- if we don't find solutions."
If we do not take action, it will not only lead to more deaths, but "cost the world 100 trillion U.S. dollars of what would be additional output," according to O'Neill.
Tackling the superbugs would require less use of antibiotics, which would slow the rate at which resistance increases and so make current drugs last longer, according to the report.
There should also be cash incentives for drugs firms to successfully develop new antibiotics, and reducing the use of antibiotics by healthcare professionals.
The report suggest that these proposals would cost up to 40 billion U.S. dollars over 10 years, which could be paid for by reallocating a fraction of funding from global institutions, allocating a small percentage of G20 nations healthcare funding, and a tax on antibiotics.
"I often say we treat these things like candy or sweets and we need to stop doing that. We have set forward a number of what we think are really powerful interventions to reduce the demand for antibiotics as sweets," said O'Neill.
"Antimicrobial resistance is a global crisis: it has both global and local dimensions. With the effective actions as illuminated by this report, we can transform the crisis into an opportunity of equal magnitude," said Prof. Bo Zheng from the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, Peking University First Hospital, in a statement released with the review. Enditem
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