Drug-resistant superbugs will cause 10 million extra deaths a year and cost up to $100 trillion

Drug-resistant superbugs will cost up to $100 trillion. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA

Drug-resistant infections will cost the world 10 million extra deaths a year and up to $100 trillion by 2050, if the global increase is not stopped, according to a major new report launched by economist Jim O'Neill today.

Drug-resistant infections already kill hundreds of thousands of people globally every year, and the trend is growing. One example is E. coli, which is a widespread bacterial infection in both rich and poor countries. It can be lethal, and kills up to half of patients who get it as a bloodstream infection where antibiotics are not used.

There is one last line of defence against E. coli which doctors use only in cases when the other antibiotics have become ineffective due to resistance. This course of treatment has been used more and more in recent year and a strain of E. coli which is resistant to this treatment has now emerged and spread around the world.

For patients infected with that bacteria, there are now no effective drugs available for doctors to use.

The analysis, produced by RAND and KPMG, with input from experts in the scientific community, estimates that failing to tackle drug resistance will mean an extra 10 million people across the world will die every year by 2050. T

The impact of this would also reduce the level of world GDP by between 2% and 3.5% by 2050, creating a cumulative hit to global wealth of $60 - $100 trillion. This is approximately the equivalent of losing the UK economy from global output every year.

Drug-resistant superbugs will cost up to $100 trillion. Credit: Klaus Rose/DPA/Press Association Images

However, the report makes the case that this crisis can be averted if global action is taken soon to address this huge problem and identifies that there is already cause for some optimism.

Over the next year the report authors will be exploring what action can be taken at a global level to address: