The use of antibiotics has significantly changed since the coronavirus surge in 2019.
Looking back on that year, there were no medications available to effectively treat and manage the symptoms of the virus. Eventually, this led to the decline of antibiotic prescribing.
So, instead of antibiotics, supportive measures such as ventilatory support and the use of vitamins to strengthen the immune system were the only ones given to infected patients.
However, these weren’t enough to improve the health conditions of some. Thus, other people started to consider antibiotics, thinking that these medications would generally improve the situation.
Not only this. In areas where there is a lack of access to diagnostics, antibiotic drugs were prescribed frequently for patients with respiratory issues. In some countries, the purchase of antibiotics from community pharmacies without prescription is done as well.
These activities are dangerous because they can accelerate the development of antimicrobial resistance.
Antibiotics in the Covid-19 Pandemic
Furthermore, as the world continues to fight against the pandemic, more health illnesses become cognate with the covid-19 virus.
In a clinical review published in Auckland Infectious Disease, secondary bacterial infections are associated with covid-19 mortality and morbidity.
Thus, antibiotic drugs become inclined in the covid-19 therapy. This time, not to treat the virus itself, but to address the bacterial infections.
Based on a study from Bangladesh, 3.5% of 1854 participants who used antibiotic medications during the covid-19 pandemic reported antimicrobial resistance. Additionally, out of these 1854 participants, only 257 used antibiotics for general illnesses. From these 257 participants, only 17.9% actually bought these medications with a prescription from a medical doctor.
As early as 2017, the Australian Government declared antimicrobial resistance as one of the biggest threats to human health. Yes, there are advances in medicine but this does not keep people from being vulnerable to infections.
Thus, general practitioners are encouraged by the government to look at this antimicrobial resistance as a big concern. In fact, the Australian Government funded over $22.5 million to implement the National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy.
General Practitioners: The Future of Antibiotic Stewardship
In an interview with Professor/Researcher David Burgner, he stated that Australia is one of the highest users of antibiotics among high-income countries, that even before the pandemic, 125.5 million different antibiotics were prescribed to 20 million people in the country.
Moreover, 71% of these antibiotics were prescribed for upper and lower respiratory infections that are not justified. Because of this, Professor Burgner reiterated that, because general practitioners are the prescribers, education and prevention of antimicrobial resistance would come from them.
Antibiotic resistance is still there and continually growing during this time of the pandemic and GPs are called to stand up as leaders to promote healthy antibiotic use.
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