In the face of rising antibiotic resistance, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has published its first ever list of the deadliest superbugs that threaten human health.
This so-called dirty dozen encompasses 12 families of dangerous bacteria that have developed resistance to the drugs used to treat common infections. Antibiotic-resistance costs some 700,000 lives each year, and if the phenomenon can’t be halted, experts predict that the number could grow to 10 million deaths annually by 2050.
“Antibiotic resistance is growing, and we are fast running out of treatment options,” says the WHO’s assistant director-general for health systems and innovation, Marie-Paule Kieny. “If we leave it to market forces alone, the new antibiotics we most urgently need are not going to be developed in time.”
The list is divided into three urgency categories – critical, high, and medium – representing how badly we need new antibiotics to treat their respective superbugs.