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WHO: Bacteria in certain blood infections now highly drug-resistant

In this photo taken on Oct 20, 2010, antibiotics are displayed at a chemist's shop in Mumbai. (SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP)

LONDON – High levels of drug resistance in bacteria that often cause bloodstream infections in hospitals emerged in the first year of the pandemic, a World Health Organization report based on data from 87 countries in 2020 has found.

Concerns about so-called superbugs – pathogens that are resistant to existing drugs – are hardly new.

The protracted overuse and/or misuse of existing therapies, particularly antibiotics, has helped microbes to become resistant to many treatments, while the pipeline of replacement therapies in development is limited.

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The WHO report showed levels higher than 50 percent of resistance in bacteria that typically cause life-threatening bloodstream infections in hospitals, such as Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter spp.