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Antimicrobial Resistance 2020

The threat from antimicrobial resistance remains

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Dr. Diane Ashiru-Oredope

Lead Pharmacist, Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections Division, National Infection Service, Public Health England (PHE)
National Lead, World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW)

Now, more than ever, we must remain united to preserve antimicrobials, particularly as COVID-19 has altered the way many people access healthcare.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) remains a threat to health.

In 2019 the World Health Organization declared AMR one of the 10 ten global health threats facing humanity. Public Health England’s latest English Surveillance Programme for Antimicrobial Utilisation and Resistance (ESPAUR) report has shown antibiotic resistant bloodstream infections has risen by a third (32%) since 2015 and that antimicrobial resistance is linked to one in five people with key bacterial blood stream infections.

Preventing infections and AMR

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented numerous additional challenges for health professionals managing patients with infections. Now, more than ever we need to continue to work together to prevent infections – including COVID-19.

At the same time, we must continue to make progress in our efforts to tackle antimicrobial resistance through multiple measures, including robust infection prevention and control, reducing inappropriate antibiotic use, diagnostic stewardship, surveillance.

COVID-19 has given us an example of what life without effective treatment for an infection could be.

COVID-19 has given us an example of what life without effective treatment for an infection could be. Although a couple of treatment options have been found useful in the management of the infection in hospitalised patients, the best measure for COVID-19 and infections caused by microorganisms resistant to medicines is to prevent the infection in the first instance.

Find out how you can protect yourself, your family and friends against the spread of antimicrobial resistance via

COVID-19 and influenza (Flu)

The key symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, fever, or loss of, or change in normal sense of smell (anosmia) or taste (ageusia). However, breathlessness, anxiety, delirium and agitation as well as fatigue, muscle aches and headache are also common and similar to other infections (especially flu) and can be difficult to differentiate.

It remains critical that individuals with cough, fever, anosmia and ageusia symptoms and but who are well enough to remain in the community (as well as those caring for them) follow the UK Stay at home guidance and get tested.

If the symptoms are mild, people are likely to feel much better in a week. If symptoms get worse, it is important to contact the NHS, for example, NHS 111 online.

Whilst there is a vaccine to protect against flu, there is currently no proven vaccine to prevent COVID-19. It is important to continue to follow the current guidance for preventing exposure to the virus with focus on Hands (wash hands regularly), Face (use face coverings) and Space (being mindful of surroundings and keeping 2 metres distance where possible).

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