The use of antibiotics especially some that the WHO recommends holding back for the most difficult-to-treat cases — may be ‘adding fuel to the fire of the already alarming antimicrobial resistance levels,’ Kamini Walia, a microbiologist with ICMR said recently.
The country’s Covid-19 crisis has put the calamity into a hyperdrive situation and the excessive usage of the world’s most potent antibiotics has stoked drug-resistant infections in India for years now.
In an exclusive interaction with HealthWire Media’s special correspondent Sneha Kumari, Dr. Manoj Sharma- Senior Consultant Internal Medicine at Fortis Hospital at Vasant Kunj, talks about excessive use of antibiotics in COVID-19 patients, and its impact:
Is it true that misuse of antibiotics and antifungals to treat Covid-19 patients may be the reason behind the surge in rare infections such as black fungus or mucormycosis?
Our Body Harbors Millions of Microbes or Microbiota which are useful for normal functioning of the body. They Protect us from the harmful microbes by either by Competitive inhibition or by Providing Immunity. Indiscriminate use of Antibiotics Kills Useful Bacteria also non-selectively thereby directly making us prone to infections by harmful pathogens. Similarly, indiscriminate use of antifungals will give chance for mucor to grow by decreasing competitive inhibitions as commonly use antifungals are not able to address the growth of mucormycosis impaired immunity by disease person COVID- 19, along with steroid usage in high doses for prolonged periods than desired, uncontrolled blood sugars are already a brewing growth for mucormycosis where indiscriminate use of antibiotics and antifungals with further add fuel to the fire.
Will the Overuse of Antibiotics During the Coronavirus Pandemic Accelerate Antimicrobial Resistance of Bacteria?
Antibiotics have been very much abused during the pandemic, specifically Doxycycline and Azithromycin. These antibiotics in particular are the great utility in treating atypical infection where commonly used antibiotics don’t work potentially. By using these drugs at massive scale which unfortunately was done in COVID-19 Pandemic have all the reason to develop antibiotic resistance and we will be deprived of the very important toll if that happens.
What can be done to stop the overuse of antibiotics in Covid1-19 patients?
When the pandemic begins, lot many drugs were tried, be it HCQS, Doxycycline, Azithromycin, Ivermectin but over a period of time they all were proved to be of no benefit in COVID19 illness. As Scientific evidence emerged, we should have become wiser not to use them indiscriminately or stopped them altogether. COVID-19 ILI is a viral illness, antibiotics are not going to be of any utility as they kill Bacteria and not Viruses. Antibiotics in COVID-19 illness have a role only in some patients who have developed secondary infections.
Antibiotics are not answered to all the illnesses still they are either commonly misused by prescribers as well as by the patients themselves as they are frequently available as over the counter without any valid prescription. Patients themselves also did a lot of self-medication during the current pandemic be it antibiotics or steroids as in our country although illegal still can procure them without a valid prescription from various pharmacies. Stringent measures and action should be taken to curb this menace.
Antibiotic misuse is a common problem in our daily practices. Antibiotic misuse related to COVID-19 has only worsened the situation. What should be done to prevent its misuse in the future?
Indiscriminate use of medications without proper guidance harms us more than doing good to us, be it antibiotics, antifungals, steroids, or even supplements. India being the diabetic capital of the world, excess use of steroids must have already converted a lot many pre-diabetics into frank for which they will on lifelong medications. The sudden surge in mucormycosis is also because of misuse of drugs. Such is the price individual pays for not taking and following medical advice and causes a huge economic burden on the country.