Antibiotic Resistance Is Still A Top Health Worry. It’s A Pandemic Worry, Too

A health crisis is rapidly unfolding worldwide. It causes suffering and death, costs billions and threatens to overwhelm health-care systems, patients and their families. No, it’s not the coronavirus pandemic. It’s that other disastrous health crisis: drug resistance.

NPR interviewed Dr. Zaman, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor at Boston University about his new book, Biography of Resistance: The Epic Battle Between People and Pathogens.

The urgency right now is this viral disease. But we have to think of antimicrobial resistance not as detached but as something that’s going on simultaneously with this pandemic. We know from history that the majority of deaths during the great 1918 flu pandemic were from secondary bacterial pneumonia. That was shown in work from Dr. Tony Fauci. People didn’t die from the virus, they died of pneumonia. Today, our best arsenal against that infection is antibiotics, so if antibiotics stop working against secondary infections in this pandemic, that’s a significant challenge.

Muhammad Hamid Zaman, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor at Boston University