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Jun 14, 2024

WHO’s report on antibacterials

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FA News Desk

The World Health Organization (WHO) today released its latest report on antibacterial agents, including antibiotics, in clinical and preclinical development worldwide.

Although the number of antibacterial agents in the clinical pipeline increased from 80 in 2021 to 97 in 2023, there is a pressing need for new, innovative agents for serious infections and to replace those becoming ineffective due to widespread use, as reported by the WHO.

First released in 2017, this annual report evaluates whether the current research and development (R&D) pipeline properly addresses infections caused by the drug-resistant bacteria most threatening to human health, as detailed in the 2024 WHO bacterial priority pathogen list (BPPL), the WHO press note added that both documents aim to steer antibacterial R&D to better counter the ever-growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Looking at newly approved antibacterials, since 1 July 2017, 13 new antibiotics have obtained marketing authorization but only 2 represent a new chemical class and can be termed innovative, underscoring the scientific and technical challenge in discovering novel antibacterials that are both effective against bacteria and safe for humans.

In addition, 3 non-traditional agents have been authorized, all are faecal-based products for restoring the gut microbiota, to prevent recurrent Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) following antibiotic treatment in adults.

Meanwhile, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in collaboration with partners, is announcing support for human rabies vaccines for post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) as part of routine immunisation.

Eligible countries are receiving guidance on how to access these vaccines under Gavi’s co-financing policy. WHO added.

The first round of applications will be accepted by mid- July 2024. Ninety-five percent of human rabies deaths occur in Africa and Asia, most often in marginalised communities that lack access to care.

This development complements ongoing global efforts of the Zero by 30 campaign, led by United Against Rabies partners including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, formerly OIE) with the goal of eliminating dog-mediated human rabies by 2030, it said.

In more than 150 countries where dog rabies remains a serious public health problem, stocks of human rabies vaccines in public health systems are often extremely limited, especially in marginalised communities. Where human rabies vaccine is available through private facilities, the cost of PEP can impose a catastrophic financial burden on families and communities.

Rabies is a viral disease that causes severe inflammation of the brain. In 99% of cases, it is transmitted to humans by a rabid dog. Once the virus reaches the central nervous system and an infected person shows clinical symptoms, rabies infection is near 100% fatal.

Funding applications will be accepted by Gavi in 2024 by 15 July and by 23 September 2024, with subsequent funding windows open three times every year, it noted.