Antibiotic-resistant superbugs could be world’s top killers by 2050

antibioticdeathLeft unchecked, antibiotic resistance will kill 10 million per year by 2050, a new report finds.

An economist crunched the numbers on the rise of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” and what he found foresees crisis in the very near future. If left unchecked, he warns, the cost, in loss of both global wealth and lives, would be truly astronomical.

Antibiotic-resistant infections are already killing hundreds of thousands of people a year; in the very near future, the report finds that number can skyrocket to more than 10 million — surpassing even the current death toll of cancer.

The biggest killers, the report finds, will be drug-resistant E. coli, malaria and tuberculosis. The economic toll, meanwhile, can surpass $100 trillion by 2050, reducing world GDP by anywhere from 2 to 3.5 percent. And the team emphasizes that this is likely an underestimate — it fails, for example, to take into account the cost of healthcare should antibiotics no longer be effective, and doctors were no longer able to perform Caesarean sections, chemotherapy or transplants.

The problem is a global one, economist Jim O’Neill, who lead the analysis, told the BBC, with some countries facing greater catastrophes than others. At the most severe end, in Nigeria, drug-resistant infections could be responsible for more than one in four deaths. In India, where antibiotic resistant infections are already taking a devastating toll on newborns, an additional two million lives could be lost every year. None will be left off the hook, however. North America and Europe, which together already see about 50,000 such deaths each year, could soon see that toll soar about 700,000. (read more)