Antibiotic resistance and COVID-19: An urgent global threat

Despite international travel being greatly restricted by COVID-19, there is evidence the pandemic is accelerating antimicrobial resistance in other ways.

Need to know:

  • Although other global health issues have received the lion’s share of attention in recent times, antimicrobial resistance remains an urgent global health threat.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated the problem through effects on antibiotic prescribing.
  • International travel is a known cause of global spread of bacteria with resistance genes. Despite the downturn of international travel during the pandemic, this is an ongoing risk as travellers return, particularly from developing nations.
  • Antibiotic treatment of travellers’ diarrhoea increases the risk of colonisation with extended spectrum beta-lactam resistant (EBSL) Enterobacteriaceae and should be reserved only for severe cases.
  • Consider ESBL Enterobacteriaceae in any returned traveller with a difficult-to-treat infection or who requires antibiotic prophylaxis for any surgical procedures in the months after return.