Overuse of antibiotics to fight Covid-19 may cause more deaths: WHO

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GENEVA : Increased antibiotics use in combating Covid-19 will strengthen bacterial resistance and lead to more deaths during the crisis and beyond, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday.

WHO director-general Ted-ros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a "worrying number" of bacterial infections were becoming more resistant to the medicines traditionally used to treat them.

The UN health agency said it was concerned that the inappropriate use of antibiotics during the crisis would fuel the trend.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increased use of antibiotics, which ultimately will lead to higher bacterial resistance rates that will impact the burden of disease and deaths during the pandemic and beyond," Dr Tedros told a virtual press conference from the WHO's Geneva headquarters.

The WHO said only a small proportion of Covid-19 patients needed antibiotics to treat subsequent bacterial infections.

Dr Tedros called the threat of antimicrobial resistance "one of the most urgent challenges of our time".

"It is clear that the world is losing its ability to use critically important antimicrobial medicines," he said.

In another development, WHO experts and a range of other scientists said there was no proof to support an assertion by a high-profile Italian doctor that the coronavirus has been losing potency.

Professor Alberto Zangrillo, head of intensive care at Italy's San Raffaele Hospital in Lombardy, which bore the brunt of Italy's Covid-19 epidemic, on Sunday told state television that the coronavirus "clinically no longer exists".

But WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove and several other experts said Prof Zangrillo's comments were not supported by scientific evidence. - AFP, REUTERS