April 21, 2015.
The European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease (ESCMID) has warned that Britain and Europe collectively could face more than a million deaths in an impending "antibiotic armageddon” unless more is done to develop new cures, rapid diagnostics and preventative measures to combat the spread of drug resistant diseases. Ahead of its annual conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, this week, ESCMID says that without more money spent on developing new drugs and the rationing of existing supplies, deaths across Europe could pass the grim milestone of a million by 2025. In Britain alone an estimated 10,000 people die a year and experts at ESCMID fear this number could triple or even quadruple within the next 10 years. Currently, the best available figures were published back in 2009 and estimated that around 25-30,000 Europeans die each year due to antimicrobial resistance and the total number of deaths is now over 400,000. However, due to new outbreaks with almost impossible to treat microorganisms, ESCMID predicts that the current (true) mortality rate is almost certain to have risen significantly. Furthermore, ESCMID predicts that within the next 10 years, annual deaths in Europe could top 50,000 per year. The global position is even more critical, and by the year 2050, deaths per year are projected to rise to 10 million, surpassing major killers such as cancer, diabetes and road traffic accidents. The worst affected nations in Europe, says ESCMID, are Greece, Spain and Italy. This is is not simply down to the lack of new antibiotics, but is exacerbated by poor monitoring and control of drugs supply, and insufficient infection control in many hospitals and institutions. ESCMID added that the estimated global economic costs associated with the rising death toll is $100 trillion, potentially resulting in a significant reduction in GDP [~6%] across all countries, with the poorest countries projected to experience the largest relative loss in GDP.