Press release

Wellcome and Gates Foundation to support new global body to tackle superbugs

Hamburg, 8 July 2017 – G20 leaders have announced a new global body to oversee discovery and development of urgently needed new antimicrobials to tackle the rising threat of drug-resistant infections.

Under provisional leadership from Germany, the Global Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Collaboration Hub will co-ordinate efforts to invigorate antimicrobial research and encourage global involvement and investment. The scope of work will cover all stages of the antimicrobial development pipeline, as well as vaccines, alternative therapies and new diagnostic tools.

The Global Collaboration Hub will be open to all G20 countries, G20 guest countries and to non-government donors. Members will be expected to release additional investment in national and/or international research, but there will not be a set minimum for entry.

UK charity Wellcome and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are among the first to pledge support.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Wellcome’s Director, said: "Drug-resistant infection affects us all, across all borders and we must work together to tackle it. Global recognition of this urgent health threat has grown – but time is running out for action. We need greater investment in developing new ways to treat and protect people from these deadly infections. We need better understanding of how resistance spreads. That is why Wellcome will be investing and supporting. We hope others will follow.”

Dr Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: "Whether you live in Berlin, New Delhi, Pretoria or Seattle, antimicrobial resistance is a growing problem. Our ability to fight back hinges on the research and development of new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics. The Global AMR Collaboration Hub will help us pursue a more global, coordinated approach to this deadly health issue."

The Global Collaboration Hub is not intended to duplicate or replace existing bodies working in this  area, such as the transatlantic partnership CARB-X already supported by Wellcome , or the Joint Programming Initiative on Antimicrobial Resistance. It will work with existing groups to promote collaboration, sharing of information and a means to invest funding more efficiently.

Background: drug-resistant infections

Drug-resistant infections currently cause around 700,000 deaths worldwide annually. Tuberculosis alone accounts for 480 000 cases of multi-drug resistance each year.

Antimicrobial discovery and development are challenging, partly due to the complexity of the bacteria and other microbes, which are constantly changing genetically and becoming resistant to existing medicines, but also because of the lack of incentives for industry investment.

The last new class of antibiotics was approved in the early 1980s. The last new class of antibiotics against the most deadly, or Gram-negative, bacteria was discovered in 1962.