Financial Times Letter to the Editor

Superbugs threaten the longevity miracle


Your editorial “War on superbugs must follow defeat of Covid-19” (FT View, December 29) is exactly right on the facts, but misses three powerful if subtle points.

First, the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) crisis is already here especially for older adults, who will number 2bn by mid-century and represent increasingly larger proportions of societies at risk in countless under-reported ways.

For example, hip, knee and heart valve replacements, cancer therapy or simple hospital visits are already avoided due to the greater risk of untreatable, often deadly infections.

Second, while the policy reforms in the US Pasteur Act are essential this must be replicated in the UK, across Europe and in Japan so that there re-emerges a truly global marketplace for the antibiotic innovation we so desperately want to enable.

Third, while to inner circle elites the AMR threat might well have been “rising up the global health priorities pre-Covid-19”, it has neither been recognised as the profound economic threat we now understand from Covid-19, nor entered the daily social and popular media.

Yes, the antibiotic revolution along with improved sanitation of the mid-20th century largely fuelled today’s longevity miracle of life to 100 as a matter of course. Antibiotics enabled billions to live past birth and early infancy and cured deadly infections as we aged.

How ironic as 2021 launches the UN/World Health Organization Decade of Healthy Ageing that one of the central reasons for our 20th century longevity miracle — antibiotics — is now threatened to extinction.

Michael W. Hodin
Chief Executive of the Global Coalition on Ageing,
Managing Partner High Lantern Group,
Regent at Harris Manchester College, Oxford University, UK

Source: Financial Times

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