Thursday, February 18, 2016

Vaccines could aid in the fight against antimicrobial resistance

Contributed by Dr. Tamhankar & Siddarth David
The latest report from the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) says that improved utilization of existing vaccines could reduce the use of antibiotics and consequently antimicrobial resistance. The report points out that if vaccination coverage was improved it could be a critical step in reducing antimicrobial dependence for infectious diseases.

The report says that the nearly 800,000 deaths due to bacterial Pneumonia could be reduced as well as nearly 11.4million days of antimicrobial could be reduced by providing universal pneumococcal vaccination. While discussing the significance of the findings, the report says " Tackling antimicrobial resistance requires a wide range of approaches and developing alternatives to antibiotics, in humans and animals, is critical to the fight. Vaccines have a vital role to play in combating drug resistance, by preventing infections in the first place."

The AMR Review was commissioned by the UK Prime Minister and is hosted by the Wellcome Trust to recommend series of measures to deal with the challenge of antibiotic resistance. However, widely effective the vaccine approach maybe it is clear that using the existing methods to address antimicrobial infections such as hand washing, etc. maybe the way ahead in antimicrobial resistance. The report is therefore another reinforcement that the solutions to the problem of antibiotic resistance may very well be there with us. In India where we still have yet to achieve universal coverage for immunization this could be another reason to accelerate the process as we have an emerging public health burden related to antibiotic resistance in the country.

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