According to new reports, the overuse of antibiotics during the coronavirus pandemic has created a rise in drug-resistant strains of super gonorrhea.
Azithromycin, a common antibiotic used to treat chest and sinus infections, has been used during the pandemic to prevent co-infection of hospitalized coronavirus patients and to treat symptoms in severely ill patients.
The World Health Organization (WHO) told the Sun that the widespread use of the drug has caused a buildup of resistance to the bacteria that cause gonorrhea.
A WHO spokesman told the Sun, “Overuse of antibiotics in the community can fuel the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in gonorrhea,” noting that azithromycin was used for COVID-19 treatment earlier in the pandemic.
The spokesman also said that the contagion has “disrupted” usual STI services by overburdening medical centers and making people afraid to go to them.
The spokesman told the UK paper, “This means more STI cases are not diagnosed properly with more people self-medicating as a result.” He added, “Such a situation can fuel the emergence of resistance in gonorrhea including gonorrhea superbug (super gonorrhea) or gonorrhea with high-level resistance to current antibiotics recommended to treat it.”
A study showed that 71% of Covid patients in the US were given antibiotics, but only 4% of patients had reasons to need them.
The WHO’s assistant director, Dr. Hanan Balkhy, told the UK paper, “The use of antibiotics will not treat [COVID-19], but it will create resistance among bacteria that already exists in our bodies.” She said, “The bottom line is, antibiotics should not be prescribed unless there’s a clear medical indication for them.”
Last week, the CDC said gonorrhea causes increased 63% since 2014 – warning that it “can facilitate transmission” of HIV. Infections can also lead to infertility in both men and women and cause blindness in babies of infected mothers.
Kevin Cox, executive chairman of UK startup Biotaspheric Limited, told the Sun that the medical world “urgently [needs] new treatments.” He said, “People infected with super gonorrhea will infect others and accelerate antimicrobial resistance.”