Microbes are becoming more resistant to drugs

Drug resistance is one of the most challenging aspects of modern medicine. Due to the fact that COVID-19 therapy is increasingly based on pharmacological treatment, we are running the risk of speeding up the evolution of drug resistance in microbes. These unsettling findings are the result of a new study co-authored by Dr hab. Paweł Łabaj from the Małopolska Centre of Biotechnology published recently in The Lancet Microbe.

The study carried out in a specialist hospital has shown disturbingly increasing tendencies in long term microbe colonisation. It has also proven that the genes responsible for drug resistance are very diverse, which increases the chance of development and transmission of new drug resistance patterns in microbes.

Admitting patients to and discharging them from specialist hospitals has become drastically more prevalent during the year-long COVID-19 outbreak, with some of the health care centres greatly expanding in size. Increased hospitalisation of patients coupled with lowered immunity has caused a surge in the risk of co-infection. Insufficient understanding of this phenomenon and lack of knowledge of concomitant diseases has resulted in rapid changes in treatment protocols, including liberal application of various drugs around the world. Excessive use of antiparasitic, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the risk of co-infection in COVID-19 patients during an extended pandemic will surely lead to future complications, including increased microbial drug resistance. It is particularly important in the context of new mutations that increase the effectiveness of spreading of SARS-CoV-2, which will responsible for recurring outbreaks of COVID-19.

The situation was further exacerbated by the quick publication of research papers without mutual verification and recommendations by WHO and other health care control and disease prevention institutions around the world. Inadequate drug absorption may also lead to more rapid evolution of drug resistance.

The article COVID-19 drug practices risk antimicrobial resistance evolution is available at The Lancet Microbe website.