Antimicrobial resistance: can we outrun evolution?

8th April 2020 by Judith Harvey

Antimicrobial resistance: can we outrun evolution?

In his Nobel prize acceptance speech Alexander Fleming sounded a note of warning. He had seen microbes acquiring resistance to penicillin and foresaw that misuse of the drug could undermine its effectiveness.

Recently, at the Frontline Club across the road from Fleming’s old lab, five people whose work as journalists and doctors has helped to bring that threat to public attention reviewed the current crisis. They included former Chief Medical Officer for England Dame Sally Davies and Times journalist David Aaronovitch – whose life was saved by antibiotics when he developed sepsis after a routine operation went wrong. They all expressed the hope that, with a bit more pushing, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) will have its David Attenborough moment.

Not at Davos; Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s speech at the meeting of the world’s movers and shakers was anodyne. And coronoavirus has wiped other health threats from the headlines.

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