Research for infection protection

European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18 November 2020 & World Antimicrobial Awareness Week from 18-24 November 2020: Use antibiotics carefully, prevent infections with multi-resistant pathogens!

Since the beginning, humanity has fought against infections caused by bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. This year, one of its representatives—the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2—made it onto all the front pages and has since dominated public life and politics in most parts of the world. However, while there are no effective causal drugs for SARS-CoV-2, as for many other viruses, the situation is very different for bacteria. Since the first half of the 20th century, we have had a large number of antibiotics at our disposal, with which we can effectively treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. And yet - experts warn that we could lose this advantage. With the steady increase in antibiotic resistance, the risk of potentially life-threatening bacterial infections that cannot be successfully treated with antibiotics in the future also increases. According to current estimates, about 700,000 people worldwide die every year from infections with resistant pathogens. According to a gloomy forecast of the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance in 2014, this number could rise to 10 million people by 2050.

European and global campaigns in November 2020: Use antibiotics carefully

In 2008, the European Union launched the European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) initiative to raise awareness of the problem of multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO). Since 2015, the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW), an initiative launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO), has also been held annually in November. While this year's slogan of the WAAW is "Antimicrobials: Handle with care", the health sector is addressed with the call "Unite to preserve antimicrobials". Both EAAD and WAAW share the common objectives of raising awareness of the threat of antimicrobial resistance through education and training and providing information on the prudent use of antibiotics to slow down the development of resistance. For this purpose, they rely primarily on information materials and social networks. Participation and dissemination are absolutely welcome! We at HARTMANN and BODE support one hundred per cent the mission of EAAD and WAAW. The prevention of infections—and thus of antibiotic use—through hygiene strategies is, in fact, one of our core competencies. Our current MDRO training film also serves as basic information on MDRO and educates interested professionals and laypeople about three important representatives - vancomycin-resistant Enterococci (VRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and multi-resistant Gram-negative rods (MRGN) - as well as targeted infection prevention.

COVID-19 pandemic could also boost antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

Antibiotic resistance arises, among other things, when antibiotics are misused—for example, when they are prescribed and used unnecessarily or inappropriately (see information graphic). The question of whether this could also happen more in the course of the COVID 19 pandemic was recently discussed in the specialist journal JAC - Antimicrobial Resistance as a pro and contra debate and in two published articles. One of the reasons given to support this was that many COVID-19 patients are treated with antibiotics as a precautionary measure out of concern about secondary bacterial infections, even though no bacterial infection is present. However, the AMR rate depends on many different factors, and the global spread of resistant germs has a greater impact than antibiotic prescriptions.

Prevention of infections through basic hygiene and rational use of antibiotics remain the be-all and end-all

It remains to be seen whether the COVID 19 pandemic, with all its medical implications, will pave the way for MDRO. In the best-case scenario, it will be possible to examine this issue once the pandemic has subsided. Either way, preventing infections—both MDRO and COVID-19—is the best strategy and is the basis of any measure. In the healthcare sector, this includes not only hand and surface disinfection and the reprocessing of medical equipment, but also personal protective equipment and other measures adapted to the respective conditions. If infections do occur despite all precautions, antibiotics should always be used carefully and moderately.

Infographic: How antibiotic resistance can develop

Infographic: How antibiotic resistance can develop



PDF files for download

European Antibiotic Awareness Day on 18/11/2020 »
World Antibiotic Awareness Week 18-24/11/2020 »

1. World Health Organisation WHO: New report calls for urgent action to avert antimicrobial resistance crisis. 29. April 2019. Joint News Release.
2. The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance chaired by Jim O’Neill. Antimicrobial Resistance: Tackling a crisis for the health and wealth of nations. December 2014.
3. Clancy CJ, et al. PRO: The COVID-19 pandemic will result in increased antimicrobial resistance rates. JAC-Antimicrobial Resistance 2020; 2: dlaa049.
4. Peter C, Beggs JJ. CON: COVID-19 will not result in increased antimicrobial resistance prevalence. JAC-Antimicrobial Resistance 2020; 2: dlaa051.