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More than 1.2 million people died from drug-resistant infections in 2019, according to a study.

The Global Research on Antimicrobial Resistance report, published by The Lancet, comes after repeated warnings from health experts about the rise of drug-resistant bacteria.

In 2019, AMR was directly responsible for an estimated 1.27 million deaths worldwide and associated with a further 4.95 million, according to the analysis.

Most of the deaths were caused by antibiotic-resistant lower respiratory infections such as pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and intra-abdominal infections.

Young children were found to be particularly at risk to AMR, with around one in five deaths in 2019 attributable to AMR occurring in children aged under 5.

"These new data reveal the true scale of antimicrobial resistance worldwide, and are a clear signal that we must act now to combat the threat," said the report's co-author Prof Chris Murray, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

"Previous estimates had predicted 10 million annual deaths from antimicrobial resistance by 2050, but we now know for certain that we are already far closer to that figure than we thought."

This graph shows the combined direct and associated deaths from antibiotic-resistant bacteria per global region measured in the new research. Africa and South Asia had the greatest number of deaths per 100,000 people, however Western European countries li

'Spending needs to be directed to preventing infections in the first place, making sure existing antibiotics are used appropriately and judiciously, and to bringing new antibiotics to market,' he said.

the analysis of 204 countries found that antimicrobial resistance ( amr ) is now killing more people every year than hiv ( 860,000 ) or malaria.

Published in The Lancet, the analysis shows that many hundreds of thousands of deaths now occur due to common, previously treatable infections – such as pneumonia – because the bacteria that cause them have become resistant to treatment.

"We need to leverage this data to course-correct action and drive innovation if we want to stay ahead in the race against antimicrobial resistance."

This graph shows the total number of deaths attributed to superbugs by type of infection in 2019. LRIs (lower respiratory tract) infections like pneumonia were the biggest killer, responsible for about 400,000 deaths and a contributor to 1.5million. BSIs

the new global research on antimicrobial resistance ( gram ) report estimates deaths linked to 23 pathogens and 88 pathogen-drug combinations across 204 countries and territories in 2019.

statistical modelling was used to produce estimates of the impact of amr in all locations – including those with no data – using 471million individual records obtained from systematic literature reviews, hospital systems, surveillance systems, and other data sources.

hiv and malaria, which killed 860,000 and 640,000 that year, respectively.

Professor Murray called for better use of existing antibiotics to limit the development of superbugs and for more funding to be made available to develop new types of medication.

An illustration of Bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, one of the 23 antibiotic resistant superbugs examined in the study, and one of the six biggest global killers

We must use this data as a warning signal to spur on action at every level. ” Regionally, deaths caused directly by AMR were estimated to be highest in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, at 24 deaths per 100,000 population and 22 deaths per 100,000 population respectively.

In the western Europe region, which includes the UK, more than 51,000 people died as a direct result of AMR.

Tim Jinks, the head of the drug-resistant infections programme at Wellcome Trust, said : "The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of global collaboration : political leaders, the healthcare community, the private sector and the public working together to tackle a global health threat.

Officials have estimated superbugs will kill 10million people worldwide each year by 2050, but the researchers of the latest study say their data suggests the world is accelerating to this death toll faster than expected.

They then used this data to also make estimates on the number of deaths that could of been prevented if the superbugs had been susceptible to antibiotics.

Drug resistance in bloodstream infections – which can lead to the life-threatening condition sepsis – caused around 370,000 deaths and was associated with nearly 1.5 million.

One of the limitations of the study, which the authors acknowledge, is the assumptions they have had to make in calculating superbug deaths in some parts of world due to a lack of available data.

Dr Ramanan Laxminarayan, from the US centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy ( CDDEP ), who was not involved in the study, said : "A clearer picture of the burden of AMR is finally emerging."

Drug resistance in just six pathogens, including E.coli and S.pneumoniae, led directly to 929,000 deaths and was associated with 3.57 million.

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