Can we act before it's too late?
In 1900, infectious disease was the leading cause of death. A man who cuts himself shaving could die from erysipelas - a strep infection, and children lost their friends to scarlet fever, meningitis. Staph in the bloodstream would kill 90% of its victims. When antibiotics entered the picture, the tides were turned - previously fatal infections were no longer a problem. They were the worlds first blockbuster drug. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that antibiotics add an average 20 years to our life expectancy. However today almost all bacteria that infect humans have become resistant in some measure to antibiotics, forcing once easily cured infections to treatments with repeated rounds of powerful and toxic drugs, choosing between safe medicines that may not work to dangerous ones that do. Sometimes there is nothing doctors can do at all. The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance in 2016 estimated that by 2050, drug resistance would claim 10 million lives a year, or one person every three seconds. Today, 700,000 people die from resistant infections each year.