With the clock ticking on the urgent need to develop new antibiotics, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has given policy makers a sharp reminder that society should not lose focus on antibiotic resistance as well, which has the potential to dwarf COVID-19 in terms of deaths and economic costs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, noted in its Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the U.S. 2019 report that more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant infections occur each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result. Against a universal decline in the effectiveness of antibiotics, there has been a renaissance of interest in using phage therapy, whose use has waxed and waned for almost a century.
In July a major initiative of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations, designed to combat the rising tide of antimicrobial resistance and accelerate the pace at which new antibiotics are discovered and brought to market, was announced. The $1 billion AMR Action Fund, supported by 23 pharma companies, was created “because there was a clear realization that we have no time to spare to address the lack of innovation in this area,” said Martin Bott, interim general manager of the fund, who described the progress being made with the fund in a fireside chat at this week’s virtual BIO Investor Forum.