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Weekly Digest: Lack of funding hinders antibiotic development; Novel coronavirus spreads globally, shutting down major cities; US millennials more likely to agree with anti-vax beliefs than other age groups.

Weekly Digest: Lack of funding hinders antibiotic development; Novel coronavirus spreads globally, shutting down major cities; US millennials more likely to agree with anti-vax beliefs than other age groups.

Lack of funding hinders antibiotic development and threatens AMR progress. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Industry Alliance released separate reports that identified a lack of investment in antibiotic research and development as a significant driver behind the failing clinical and pre-clinical pipelines and ultimately, increasing rates of drug resistance. According to the WHO, only two of the 60 antibacterial products currently under clinical development target multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria, for which treatment options are currently running out. In a SciDev article, CDDEP director Ramanan Laxminarayan commented on the issue, saying “despite undoubted progress on AMR in terms of surveillance, awareness, and action plans, ‘the age of privately funded antibiotic development is over unless the economics change radically.’” [WHO, AMR Industry Alliance, SciDev]

Novel coronavirus spreads globally, shutting down major cities. The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that originated in Wuhan, China last month has infected nearly 3,000 individuals, killing more than 80 and shutting down over a dozen Chinese cities. Exported cases have been reported in at least 15 countries worldwide, and there have been five confirmed cases of the pneumonia-like illness in the United States, all of whom had recently traveled to Wuhan.  The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has begun screening for the novel coronavirus at major US airports, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged countries to prepare for the continued spread of the virus. [WHO, CDC, CNN, NYTimes, CDDEP]

US millennials more likely to agree with anti-vax beliefs than other age groupsAn online survey of 1,000 US adults ages 25 to 73 indicated that millennials were among the age group least likely to get a flu shot and most likely to agree with anti-vaccine beliefs. More than half of survey respondents in their 20s and 30s had not yet received a flu shot this season (55 percent), and 33 percent of these individuals had no intention of seeking one. Millennials who were familiar with the anti-vaccine movement were also more likely to agree with anti-vax beliefs and rhetoric compared to the average adult (61 vs. 52 percent). The survey also found that African Americans were more susceptible to anti-vaccine beliefs than other race groups, and parental misinformation and miscommunication were common causes for missed flu vaccination among children. [AAFP, CIDRAP]

Antimicrobial use is high among animals and humans in Vietnam. Researchers from Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City estimated that 3,838 tons of antimicrobials were used in Vietnam in 2015, with 2,751 tons corresponding to animal use alone. The study found that the rate of antimicrobial use in Vietnam is 261.7 mg and 247.3 mg per kg of human and animal biomass, which is nearly double the estimated use in the European Union. Pigs accounted for the greatest quantity of antimicrobial use in Vietnam, followed by humans, aquaculture, and chickens (41.7, 28.3, 21.9, and 4.8 percent, respectively). [Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control]

Delhi becomes third Indian State to release an AMR action planDelhi has released the State Action Plan to Combat Antimicrobial Resistance (SAPCAR), becoming the third State in India to develop an action plan against antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Following World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on national action plans, the SAPCAR outlines six priority areas, emphasizing multi-sector involvement, as well as a One Health approach to tackle AMR. Kerala and Madhya Pradesh were the first two States to launch sub-national AMR action plans in 2018 and 2019, respectively. [The Daily Pioneer]

Discordant antibiotic use may be appropriate in US children with resistant UTIs. Researchers conducted a retrospective study of 316 US children with third-generation cephalosporin-resistant urinary tract infections (UTIs), and found that discordant antibiotic use may be appropriate while awaiting culture results. Discordance is defined as the use of an antibiotic for an infection that is later found to be resistant to that medication. The study found that 83.5 percent of those who took discordant antibiotics before their urine culture was available saw clinical improvement, and only 2.2 percent faced escalation of care. The study authors suggest that narrow-spectrum empirical therapy may be appropriate for children awaiting final UTI culture results. [Pediatrics]

US stewardship programs overlook suboptimal antibiotic prescribing among hospitalized children. According to a cross-sectional analysis of 32 US hospitals between 2016 and 2017, nearly 26 percent of hospitalized children received at least one suboptimal antibiotic, and nearly half of these suboptimal prescriptions would have been overlooked by routine antibiotic stewardship program (ASP) review. Findings suggest that current ASP practices should be improved and broadened to capture more suboptimal antibiotic prescriptions among hospitalized children. [Clinical Infectious Diseases]

FDA fast tracks new flu vaccine for older adults. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted “Fast Track Designation” for NanoFlu, a seasonal flu vaccine candidate that is designed to protect adults ages 65 and older from potentially life-threatening influenza complications. The FDA’s “Fast Track Designation” is intended to accelerate the drug/vaccine development process to give patients access to important medications as quickly as possible. The quadrivalent vaccine was developed by Novavax, and results from a phase 3 clinical trial evaluating the safety and immunogenicity of NanoFlu are expected to be available in March. [Novavax]