Resistance to antibiotics: scientists denounce “catastrophic predictions”


The mortality attributed to bacteria resistant to antibiotics is overvalued because it is estimated according to statistical models “disconnected from the reality of the field,” said Monday French researchers.

In a correspondence published by the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases, they denounce “catastrophic predictions” about antimicrobial resistance, considered a major problem by the world health authorities.

“In recent years, analysts have conducted studies based on mathematical models and statistical projections. Lacking moderation, they attribute to the resistance to antibiotics thousands of deaths, up to 12,500 in France alone, “write these researchers from the Marseille University Hospital-Mediterranean Infection Institute.

“However, these models, as complex as they seem to be, are not sufficiently confronted with the reality on the ground. They use estimates and extrapolations whose reliability is questionable, “they say.

In support of their claims, they cite two past studies according to which antimicrobial resistance would cause 5,500 deaths per year in France for one (Cassini study), and 12,500 for the other (Burden study).

To try to compare these conclusions with the realities of the field, the French scientists, Didier Raoult (microbiologist), Marc Leone (resuscitator), Jean-Marc Rolain (pharmacist) and Yanis Roussel (PhD student) “have sent to more than 350 practitioners of intensive care units a questionnaire “. 

“Of the 250 responses, nearly 90% report fewer than one death every two years in their service following a therapeutic stalemate related to antibiotic resistance and 42% report none,” they say. . 

Rather than rely on mathematical models, they demand the establishment of a “national registry of mortality related to so-called multidrug-resistant bacteria, to better know the real threats and dismiss those that come only from the imagination of statisticians” .

Health authorities, starting with the World Health Organization (WHO), regularly warn about the danger of overconsumption of antibiotics, which makes resistant redoubtable bacteria. Young children and the elderly are particularly at risk.

Last November, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimated in a report that resistant bacteria could kill 2.4 million people in Europe, North America and Australia by 2050.

Released just before in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the Cassini study estimated that 33,000 people died from these bacteria in 2015 in the European Union.

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