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Fighting COVID-19 Could Give Rise to Superbugs

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OTTAWA—Copious use of hand sanitizer and disinfectant is crucial in the fight against COVID-19, but it could be setting Canada back in the battle against superbugs.

Microbiologists say antimicrobial resistant organisms, or superbugs, are a pandemic on the same scale as COVID-19, though it will play out on a much longer timeline.

Antimicrobial resistance was directly responsible for 5,400 deaths in 2018, according to a recent report by the Council of Canadian Academies.

If nothing is done, by 2050 there could be as many as 140,000 preventable deaths, and Canadas health-care costs associated with antimicrobial resistance could grow to $8 billion per year.

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CANADA-HEALTH-VIRUS-SANITIZER
Hand sanitizers at Spirit of York distillery in Toronto, Ontario, on March 19, 2020. (Lars Hagberg /AFP via Getty Images)

Thats why some of the images of the COVID-19 pandemic have been so disturbing for Dr. Lori Burrows, a professor of biochemical science at McMaster University.

“I was a little freaked out by watching tanker trucks full of disinfectant being sprayed all over the street in some countries,” she said. “It seems a little excessive to me.”

Some experts worry even strictly necessary efforts to destroy the novel coronavirus linked to COVID-19 could actually drive some bacteria to become more resistant.

The government was set to release its pan-Canadian action plan to tackle antimicrobial resistance this year.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu was questioned about the plan at the House of Commons health committee in early March, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck Canada full force.

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hand-sanitizers
A customer buys s hand sanitizers at Spirit of York distillery in Toronto, Ontario, on March 19, 2020. (Lars Hagberg / AFP via Getty Images)

“Weve been committing to using antimicrobials responsibly,” she told the committee. “As you know, though, right now there is a surge on hand sanitizer, which is not helpful in terms of the work that were doing to reduce the use of things that contribute to the growth of antimicrobials.”

Though washing hands with soap or alcohol-based sanitizers has no known effect on superbugs, other types of sanitizers and disinfectants can contribute to bacteria that resist antimicrobials.

The use of drugs during the pandemic could also have an effect, said Dr. Gerry Wright, director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University.

“Any time that were facing a rise in infections of the kind that were seeing with COVID-19 … we run the risk of bacterial infections at the same time,” Wright said.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Health care workers speak with patients at a drive-thru Covid-19 assessment centre in London, Ontario, on March 17, 2020. (Geoff Robins / AFP via Getty Images)

Secondary bacterial infections are common in patients with severe upper respiratory symptoms, he said, which lead doctors to prescribe antibiotics. And increased use of antibiotics leads to an increase in antimicrobial resistance.

Its not clear if antibiotic use in the general public has gone up or down Read More – Source