Fortis-Mohali pharmacology consultant Dr Shivani Juneja said: “The misuse of antibiotics during Covid-19 could accelerate the spread of antimicrobial resistance. A virus, not a bacteria, causes Covid-19, so anti-bacterial medicine shouldn’t be used for treating or preventing it, unless bacterial infections are also present. Taking antimicrobials without prescription will not only promote antibiotic resistance but also lead to adverse drug effects, high cost, and complications.” Dr Juneja said: “Across the world, chemists sell antimicrobials, which include antibiotics, without prescription. The scale and effect of this practice are unknown. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) happens when the bacteria, fungi, and viruses develop the ability to defeat the medicines designed to kill them. It makes even common infections harder to treat. The risk of spread and the severity of the disease increase.”
Antimicrobials are crucial curing agents for humans, animals, and plants. The misuse and overuse of antimicrobials allow drug-resistant infections to develop. Poor medical prescribing practices, over-the-counter use, and patient adherence contribute to the AMR. Often, antimicrobials are prescribed incorrectly for those illnesses or are taken without proper medical supervision.
The irrational use of antibiotics has allowed dangerous bacterial strains to emerge. Even the most powerful antibiotics are ineffective against these strains, which make even common infections life-threatening.
In its battle against antimicrobial resistance, the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) has also released its policy for the management of these cases in adults. The antimicrobial awareness week is on at the PGI. Institute director Dr Jagat Ram said: “Anti-microbial resistance is a big concern across the world. The overuse and abuse of antimicrobial medicine is the major factor. The PGI’s antimicrobial stewardship committee (AMSC) has brought out a comprehensive document to promote appropriate use of antibiotics.”
The guidelines prescribe a culture of appropriate diagnostics and staff training on best practices for antimicrobial use. AMSC convener Dr Nusrat Shafique said: “The document will be shared across platforms and the hospitals will be free to modify it according to their conditions.” The World Health Organisation had cautioned us in 2019 that if the overuse of antibiotics didn’t stop, we could go back to the times when it was hard to treat infections such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, salmonellosis, and gonorrhoea.