CDC calls for increased research into vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to tackle antimicrobial resistance

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Streptococcus pneumoniae. Pic:getty/ilexx
Streptococcus pneumoniae. Pic:getty/ilexx

Related tags CDC Us Antimicrobial resistance Vaccines

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says COVID-19 has ‘pushed back years of progress’ in combating antimicrobial resistance (AR) in the US – adding that the threat from AR has also got worse.

In a new report on AR, it calls for more innovation and research in vaccines as one of the ways to tackle the problem.

Resistant hospital-onset infections and deaths both increased at least 15% in the US during the first year of the pandemic.

More than 29,400 people died from antimicrobial-resistant infections commonly associated with healthcare.

Increases in specific pathogens included:

  • carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter ​– 78% increase in infections
  • multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa ​– 32% increase
  • vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus​ (VRE) – 14% increase
  • methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus​ (MRSA) – 13% increase

Of these, nearly 40% got the infection while they were in the hospital (the total national burden of deaths from AR may be much higher, says the CDC, but data gaps caused by the pandemic hinder that analysis).

“This setback can and must be temporary. The COVID-19 pandemic has unmistakably shown us that antimicrobial resistance will not stop if we let down our guard; there is no time to waste,”​ said Michael Craig, MPP, Director of CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Coordination & Strategy Unit.

“The best way to avert a pandemic caused by an antimicrobial-resistant pathogen is to identify gaps and invest in prevention to keep our nation safe.”

Investing in protection

The use of vaccines to prevent infections, slow the spread of resistance, and reduce antibiotic use are among the recommendations made by the CDC’s Special Report, ‘COVID-19: US Impact on Antimicrobial Resistance 2022’.

The agency also wants to see a new vaccine data platform built to inform the development of new vaccines.

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to stop the spread of germs before they can cause an infection,”​ notes the report.

“Vaccines can significantly reduce infection rates, which decreases antibiotic use and the number of resistant germs.

"For example, drug-resistant S. pneumoniae... has effective vaccines to prevent infections, including pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs). The PCV13 vaccine, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed in 2010, protects people from 13 types of pneumococcus, including resistant forms. This vaccine prevented more than 30,000 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease and 3,000 deaths from 2010 to 2013 alone.

“In 2021, two new pneumococcal conjugate vaccines were licensed for adults—PCV15 and PCV20. With additional serotypes included in these vaccines, even more cases of pneumococcal disease should be prevented.”

The CDC’s report comes as the World Health Organization also calls for increased vaccine development against AR, releasing its first-ever report this month on the pipeline of vaccines.

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