The measures taken to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 might be contributing to the spread of a new, antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea.
The overuse of antibiotics during the pandemic might render the sexually-transmitted infection (STI) more resistant to them, according to World Health Organization (WHO) medics who spoke to The Sun.
Gonorrhea, one of the world’s oldest STIs, infects more than 90 million people each year worldwide, and the rate is increasing by 17%.
Untreated, gonorrhea can lead to an exponential increase of HIV transmission, as well as eye infections that can cause blindness.
Many of the cases take place in Africa, according to the WHO, though cases have also been skyrocketing in other nations. According to the CDC, infections have increased 63% since 2014, and 5 million Americans could potentially have been infected during the past decade.
“Overuse of antibiotics in the community can fuel the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in gonorrhea,” a WHO spokesman told The Sun. “Azithromycin—a common antibiotic for treating respiratory infections—was used for COVID-19 treatment earlier in the epidemic.”
“During the pandemic, STI services have also been disrupted,” the spokesman continued. “This means more STI cases are not diagnosed properly with more people self-medicating as a result.”
“Such a situation can fuel emergence of resistance in gonorrhea including gonorrhea superbug or gonorrhea with high-level resistance to current antibiotics recommended to treat it.”
“Resistant strains in gonorrhea continue to be a critical challenge to STI prevention and control efforts,” he added.
Kevin Cox, who is the executive chairman of U.K. start-up Biotaspheric Limited, warned The Sun about the potential of the new gonorrhea strain becoming untreatable. “People infected with super gonorrhea will infect others and accelerate anti-microbial resistance,” he said. “We urgently need new treatments.”
Biotaspheric Limited is seeking new ways to treat a new strain of gonorrhea.
“Gonorrhea is an ancient infection, with ancient Chinese medical textbooks dating back to 2,600 BC describing treatments,” The Sun reported. “These included injecting mercury, silver and even gold directly into the urethra.”
COVID-19 has also experienced a mutation, causing concern among those who fear the new vaccines will prove inadequate.
As The Daily Wire reported:
The top doctor working on “Operation Warp Speed” reassured Americans that COVID-19 vaccines will most likely remain effective even against a new, more contagious strain that appears to be spreading in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui told CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday that despite the new variant, which some speculate may already be in the United States, the structure of the virus renders any significant mutation difficult.
Explaining that researchers in both countries are looking “very carefully” into the new strain, Slaoui said, “The key is that the spike protein requires really very, very specific three-dimensional structure that makes it hard for it to mutate too much. So, up to now, I don’t think there has been a single variant that would be resistant to the virus — to the vaccine. We can’t exclude it, but it’s not there now. And this particular variant in the U.K., I think, is very unlikely to have escaped the vaccine immunity.”
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