Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has seen an increase due to Covid-19 and the current pandemic has impacted antimicrobial stewardship as well as has pushed back years of work to prevent and control AMR, said scientists and medical professionals on Tuesday at a webinar organised virtually by Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS).

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Dr Rakesh Mishra, director of TIGS, cautioned that the pandemic does not mean other problems have disappeared and that AMR is “probably a silent tsunami building up, and might lead us to a very bad situation in a not very long time from now.”

While one of the sources of misuse is in healthcare settings for humans, Mishra added that a “major misuse or overuse of antibiotics (is) in livestock, in fisheries and poultry.”

Former director general of ICMR, N K Ganguly, highlighted that a “major problem” is the wherewithal and know-how to tackle AMR in India is not there and is very expensive “and that kind of fund allocation is not there.”

A contributing factor to AMR are chemical companies and API (active pharmaceutical ingredient)-manufacturing companies, as well as hospital liquid waste as Ganguly highlights.

Indicating the extent of overuse and misuse of antibiotics during the pandemic, Dr GM Varghese, professor and head of department of Infectious Diseases at CMC Vellore, also a speaker at the webinar, said that a meta-analysis has shown that 75 per cent of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 received antibiotics despite only 8 per cent of them diagnosed with a bacterial coinfection.
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Dr Ruchi Singh, scientist at ICMR National Institute of Pathology suggested that one way to curtail antibiotic overuse is, if we can determine if a specific infection is viral or bacterial “because at present infections are not diagnosed properly.”

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