Doctor warns silent pandemic 'scarier' than Covid and killing one million a year

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Antibiotic resistant and superbugs are a global health threat that is already killing over one million people a year (Image: AFP via Getty Images)
Antibiotic resistant and superbugs are a global health threat that is already killing over one million people a year (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

One top British surgeon and health pioneer has revealed the global health threat that he fears more than Covid.

Lord Ara Darzi is a pioneering surgeon and crossbench peer in the House of Lords. He was the first person to perform robotic surgery in the country, pioneered keyhole operations, and used AI to diagnose breast cancer.

Associated with reforming the NHS, Mr Darzi has revealed what he has warned may be the next global health threat. Already responsible for killing over one million people a year, antibiotic resistance leads to untreatable superbugs.

It’s this that the health pioneer has warned is more frightening than the Covid pandemic that rocked the world. The 63-year-old Armenian refugee is so concerned by the threat posed by antibiotic resistance that he is setting up his own centre to fight back against the "silent pandemic".

Doctor warns silent pandemic 'scarier' than Covid and killing one million a year rriddqixxiqezinvLord Ara Darzi made the bleak warning - but is taking action to tackle the challenge ahead (Getty Images for Aurora Humanitarian Initiative)

Prince William has agreed to be one of the patrons of The Fleming Centre, which will open in 2028, in Paddington, London. The pair first met years ago, working on one of the royal’s mental health campaigns, and Mr Darzi lauded William’s involvement as helping them have a global impact.

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Its opening will mark one hundred years since Alexander Fleming first discovered penicillin, something that’s become a staple in GPs across the UK. But now, in part due to overuse and to mutating superbugs, antibiotics could lead to the creation of illnesses that claim millions of lives.

Speaking to The Times, the crossbench peer revealed his worries and plans. He said: "In 2028 there will be as many people dying of infections that are resistant to antibiotics as died from infections in 1928 prior to the discovery of penicillin. Bacteria have been around for three billion years, well before humanity existed. They’ve survived all sorts of conditions, from the frozen world to great heat. They survived by mutating. Antibiotics are an external threat to bacteria, so they evolve constantly to become resistant to them."

He added that in many ways, antibiotic resistance was "more frightening" than Covid and hospitals can end up in situations without any antibiotics to treat an infection - something he warned is already happening.

Mr Darzi warned that antibiotics were being overused as doctors took the "easy way out" by prescribing them for colds of the flu, or just feeling under the weather - when they’re there to treat bacterial infection. However, shockingly it’s not just a human problem with some parts of the world seeing cattle plugged full of antibiotics as well - further worsening the issue.

Kieren Williams

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