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Extent of antibiotic resistance unknown, report finds

by Britt E. Erickson
May 8, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 18


The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made some progress in the past few years in monitoring antibiotic-resistant infections, but the magnitude of the problem is still unclear, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concludes in a report released April 29. The GAO, which conducted the investigation at the request of Congress, recommends that federal agencies beef up surveillance of antibiotic resistance in the US and abroad, accelerate development of tests for detecting antibiotic-resistant infections, and provide incentives to drug manufacturers to boost the pipeline of new antibiotics. The report comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, as pharmaceutical companies focus their efforts on treatments for COVID-19 and many COVID-19 patients develop secondary bacterial infections that are increasingly hard to treat. “Given the urgency of the threat of antibiotic resistance, this report presents important findings and underscores the need for further research to determine the level of antibiotic resistance in the U.S. and around the world,” leaders of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the House of Representatives say in a statement.

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