May 14, 2017

A new type of bacteria has been discovered in the past few years and it has scared the international community more than any other recent health discovery of the past decade. These families of bacteria have evolved during our lifetimes and can now be relatively immune to antibiotics that we commonly use to cure and deal with infections.

These superbugs, greatly deserving of their new nickname, are growing in numbers and leaving clinicians out of options as they currently kill an average of 700,000 people every year. This number is expected to multiply exponentially and reach 10 million deaths per year according to experts if these bacteria are left unchecked and if the solution is left in the hands of the current market model.

Marie-Paule Kieny, A high ranking World Health Organization officer said that if left to market forces alone, the new antibiotics needed to fight these bacteria will never be developed in time. Along with a growing number of influential people in the international health community, Kieny is alluding to an increasingly urgent need for international communities and governments to come together and eventually change the current system that doesn’t incentivize pharmaceutical companies to research and develop antibiotics, since they are only used by patients for a short period and therefore won’t bring in as many profits.

The WHO released the list of the 12 deadliest superbugs, but wants to emphasize to the public that this is not a call to panic but rather a pressing invitation to the pharmaceutical and scientific communities to shift their priorities and focus a bit more on this new threat. The bacteria are divided into three categories based on how urgently they need to be dealt with. These are respectively : Critical, High and Medium.

Below is an excerpt of the list, the full list can be found on the WHO’s website

Priority 1: CRITICAL

  • 1. Acinetobacter baumannii

Priority 2: HIGH

  1. 1. Enterococcus faecium
  2. 2. Staphylococcus aureus

Priority 3: MEDIUM

  • 1. Streptococcus pneumoniae