19 November 2021 | Science conversation
What have we learned about COVID-19 and antibiotics so far? What happens when antibiotics are not taken according to prescription or are used irrationally? When are antibiotics prescribed in the course of COVID-19 treatment? Professor Hanan H. Balkhy explains in Science in 5 this week.
Why should we be concerned about use of antibiotics and COVID-19? What happens when we use antibiotics that are not prescribed or don't use them in the prescribed way? Hello and welcome to science in 5. I'm Vismita Gupta Smith. We are talking to Professor Hanan H. Balkhy on COVID-19?
Professor Hanan H. Balkhy
Thank you Vismita and it's nice to be with you again. Antibiotics are pharmaceutical agents. They are medications that are useful in treating bacterial infections and not viral infections. And COVID-19, or SARS-CoV-2, is a viral infection that can cause mild disease that where patients remain at home in the communities, or it can lead to moderate or severe disease where patients are admitted to the hospital.
Some of them might even be admitted to the intensive care units. But the problem is that with the large number of COVID-19 patients, the use of antibiotics by health care providers becomes more and more and more so there's excessive use of antibiotics when not needed. The bottom line is that antibiotics treat bacteria and not viruses, and SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19, is a disease caused by a virus.
So there is really no recommendation for treating antibiotics for COVID-19 as a pathogen or as a disease.
Hannan explained to us why we are concerned about scenarios where people may be taking antibiotics without a prescription or may not be completing the cause, or may be taking antibiotics that has been prescribed for someone else because they heard that this was effective for someone else with similar symptoms. Explain to us why this is a matter of concern for us.
This is a great matter of concern because first of all, there's several things happening in the scenarios you gave. People feel the urge to use antibiotics because they heard from family or friend that it would be useful to them. While antibiotics need to be prescribed by licensed healthcare providers to provide it for the right diagnosis with the right to dosages with the right duration, and this is extremely important. So that's the first issue.
And if they are given a prescription, they really need to complete the course of treatment. This improper use or irrational use of antibiotics, as I said, only fuels further into resistance development for these bacteria.
Thank you, Hanan. That was Science in 5 today, until next time then. Stay safe, stay healthy and stick with science.