The World Health Organization (WHO) has on Monday explained why many more COVID-19 patients would die of the deadly virus.
It warned that the continued abuse and unauthorised use of antibiotics to treat COVID-19 may cause antibiotic resistance by some bacterial infections over time.
As a result, more people may die during and after the COVID-19 pandemic because the available antibiotics may not be sufficient and able to treat their infections.
The WHO, therefore, stressed that the choice of antibiotics must be based on the clinical diagnosis, local epidemiology, and antibiotic susceptibility, as well as the treatment guideline.
Speaking during the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, in Abuja, the WHO Country Representative, Dr Fiona Braka, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased use of antibiotics, which ultimately leads to bacterial resistance, that will ultimately increase the burden of diseases and deaths during the pandemic and beyond.
“New antimicrobial resistance data released by WHO shows that globally, a worrying number of bacterial infections are increasingly resistant to the medicines at hand to treat them. We also know that based on evidence, only a small proportion of COVID-19 patients do need antibiotics to treat subsequent bacterial infections.
“The organization has released new clinical management guidelines not to provide antibiotic therapy prophylaxis to patients with mild COVID-19 or to patients with suspected or confirmed moderate COVID-19 illness unless there is a clinical indication to do so.”
She added: “We have also released a WHO off-labour use of medicines for COVID-19, scientific brief, and a WHO medical product alert to warn consumers, health care professionals, and health authorities against a growing number of falsified medical products that claim to prevent, detect, treat or cure COVID-19.
“As mentioned by the Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) at the last briefing, the national team has reviewed the global guidance and has contextualised it to the case of Nigeria, and there is now an updated national interim guideline for clinical management of COVID-19 released last week.
“To quote from that guideline, ‘the choice of antibiotics is based on the clinical diagnosis, the local epidemiology, and antibiotic susceptibility, as well as the treatment guidelines.’ Close review and monitoring of patients, are therefore required to determine when to use the antibiotics.”