On 21 March we heard Dr. Didem Torumkuney, MSc, PhD speaking about "Antibiotics in the Covid era”.
She, originally from Turkey, had been working for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for 15 years. However, she stressed that her visit and discussion were not related to GSK, and that the information shared was based on her 30 years' clinical
microbiology experience. Her talk was both illuminating and instructive (and quite technical).
Here are the highlights:
• Antimicrobial resistance is increasing in the World, and it is all our responsibility to tackle it. Doctors, patients, pharmacists, governments and pharmaceutical companies should work hand in hand;
• There are different type of microorganisms and their sizes are very different too;
• Bacteria can survive alone, while viruses are cell-dependent micro-organisms and have to live within a cell. That is why SARS-COV 2 cannot survive outside of the body for a long time;
• Viruses can have either DNA or RNA as a genetic material, but bacteria has DNA;
• To treat viral infections, we use anti-virals; to treat bacterial infections, we use antibiotics. Antibiotics should not be used to treat viral infections;
• There is a strong correlation between antibiotic consumption and an increasing level of antibiotic resistance;
• If we do not use antibiotics properly, we will see more antibiotic resistance in the future;
• In the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, doctors thought that the patients were dying due to secondary bacterial infections, as in the case of the flu pandemic back in 1918;
• ... but it was not the case. Based on published manuscripts among 3,338 patients, only 14.3% of them had a secondary infection (3.5% of them had a co-infection);
• In Covid-19 cases, antibiotics should not be prescribed if we are not sure there is a secondary bacterial infection or co-infection. This will contribute to the increasing level of antibiotic resistance