DiscoverDiscoveryThe Evidence: Drug-resistant superbugs
The Evidence: Drug-resistant superbugs

The Evidence: Drug-resistant superbugs

Update: 2022-02-2610
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Today, Claudia Hammond and her panel of experts focus on what’s been called “the silent pandemic”, the threat to modern medicine of anti-microbial resistance or AMR.

Infections are increasingly resistant to live-saving drugs like antibiotics and many believe the very future of modern medicine is hanging in the balance.

In a series produced in collaboration with Wellcome Collection, this edition of The Evidence is recorded in front of a live audience in the Reading Room at Wellcome in London.

Just last month, a new global study covering 204 countries and territories published in The Lancet reveals the scale of AMR to human health. The number of lives lost is double previous estimates.

The latest data reveals 1.3 million deaths caused directly by resistant infections in just one year, 2019, and five million more deaths were linked with AMR.

The figures are shocking, especially because one in every five deaths were in children, under five years old, with the highest number of deaths in Western Sub-Saharan Africa.

But this is a pandemic that threatens everybody, wherever they live.

Everly Macario a public health researcher from Chicago in the United States shares her family’s story: the death of their 18 month old son, Simon, to a drug-resistant strain of the bacterial infection MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). The loss of Simon spurred Everly to campaign against the mis-use of antibiotics, particularly in agriculture and farming, which contributes to the rise in AMR.

Leaders in the global fight against AMR join Claudia to discuss the threat to human health and address the paradox that while AMR claims millions of lives, so many die each day because they can’t get access to basic, life-saving drugs like antibiotics.

And Wellcome Collection’s Research Development Lead, Ross Macfarlane, delves into the archives and shares the warning from the inventor of the first antibiotic, penicillin, Alexander Fleming as he accepted his Nobel Prize in 1945, that mis-use would lead to resistance developing.

The new super drug was destined to spawn the new super bug.

Claudia’s guests include the UK Special Envoy on AMR, Professor Dame Sally Davies; the World Health Organisation’s Assistant Director General for Anti-Microbial Resistance, Dr Hanan Balkhy; Senior Research Manager for Drug Resistant Infections at Wellcome, Dr Janet Midega and the Director of ReAct Africa, Dr Mirfin Mpundu.

Produced by: Fiona Hill, Anand Jagatia and Maria Simons
Studio Engineers: Duncan Hannant and Emma Harth
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The Evidence: Drug-resistant superbugs

The Evidence: Drug-resistant superbugs

BBC World Service