Early evidence and anecdotal accounts suggest that, since the pandemic started, there have been changes in hospital practices and an increase in antibiotic use – but has drug resistance risen as a result of these?
Wellcome is funding a large-scale study across hospitals in 11 countries to answer this question.
This cohort study, run by the University of Oxford, will use clinical patient data from a global network of hospitals, including some in countries significantly hit by coronavirus such as Italy, the UK, India, Iran, South Korea, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Brazil.
The study will seek to answer if there have been changes in adherence to diagnostic stewardship protocols, antibiotic usage, and infection control practices during the pandemic, and if there has been any major change in drug resistance as a result.
This research will provide the evidence base we need to better respond to the changes brought by Covid-19 and design appropriate interventions to limit the spread of drug-resistant infections.
Using data to guide public interventions and decision making is pivotal not just for pandemics, but for tackling all infectious diseases, including those that are becoming resistant to antibiotics and other drugs. Accurate antimicrobial resistance data is crucial for guiding patient care – ensuring that patients are getting the right treatment – and also for guiding public health decision making at a national, regional and global level.
Knowing the burden of drug resistance can help us make better decisions, such as which drugs to prioritise in development and which countries need support. But the surveillance systems, infrastructure and skills required to collect and use data are either non-existent or in bad shape in many low-resource countries.
This is why Wellcome has made the use of accurate data a central part of our work on drug-resistant infections. As well as funding studies like the one above, we have funded SEDRIC, a think tank that promotes the use of data to tackle drug-resistant infections. And we have forged unique public-private research collaborations with organisations like Pfizer Inc. to generate and use data sustainably in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Uganda.
These partnerships are making good progress, but more work is needed to set in place systems to gather, generate and use data around the world. If you have any ideas about this, we’d love to hear them. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.