The fall of COVID-19 and the rise of antimicrobial resistance


Donald McNab and Mark Schuster

The fall of COVID-19 and the rise of antimicrobial resistance

PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek /

With evidence of antimicrobial resistance increasing, can innovation incentives drive pharma to fight back? Donald McNab and Mark Schuster of Marks & Clerk explore.

At the time of writing, the nations of the UK are in the process of abandoning or at least easing, the legal restrictions introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, it appears that this crisis is reaching—if not an end—the end of the beginning. For the past two years, the pandemic has dominated the public scientific conversation, with enormous amounts of public and private resources being directed to its resolution.

But has the COVID-19 emergency distracted us from a well-established, but no less serious, medical threat? Described variously as “an overlooked pandemic” (E Pelfrene, R Botgros and M Cavaleri, Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control, 2021) and a “forgotten plight” (R Laxminarayan, The Lancet, 2022), is it now time to turn more attention and resource to the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR)?

Antimicrobials, such as antibiotics, are used to treat infections by disease-causing microorganisms. AMR describes the ability of microorganisms to withstand exposure to such antimicrobials, making treatments less effective or, at worst, ineffective.

COVID-19, antimicrobial, Marks & Clerk, pandemic, innovation, R&D, patent rights, monopoly, inventions, IP policy