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COVID-19 May Exacerbate Ongoing Health Crisis of Antibiotic Resistance

University of Georgia

A University of Georgia Professor is sounding the alarm about how COVID-19 may be contributing to another epidemic that has been growing steadily in the United States for decades. 

Thousands of lives are claimedevery year by antibiotic resistance, which occurs when bacteria in the body adapt to survive despite the presence of antimicrobial drugs. Dr. Stephen Trent is a distinguished professor in the Department of Infectious Diseases at UGA, and he worries about the high rates of bacterial co-infections that are reported among COVID-19 patients. 

“When you have these coinfections,” he says, “the morbidity and mortality rates are worse, far worse. So with COVID, there’s going to be a lot of patients that are getting antibiotics, often they are going to be needed, but whether you have a bacterial infection or not, if you give patients antibiotics, you are going to generate resistance. We have to, we have no choice, but it’s going to make the problem worse.”

Dr. Trent’s lab in the Department of Infectious Diseases at UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine researches how bacteria adapt to survive antibacterial drugs, hopefully paving the way for new, more effective medicine. His latest work has helped boost an antibiotic used often as a “last resort drug” for extremely treatment-resistant bacteria.