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The biggest threat after COVID-19

The pandemic of 2020 has been an eye-opening event in almost a hundred year. With thousands dying every day and millions crowding the hospitals, people feel hopeless. Many are doubtful if they will live to see next year. Families are not even allowed to say goodbyes to the ones who are taken to funeral homes from the hospital directly, to avoid any unnecessary contamination or spread of the virus. However, the biggest threat that is still lurking behind the shadows of the coronavirus is bacteria.


Bacteria are more sophisticated than viruses. One can also say they are smarter than viruses. Viruses are parasitic, i.e., they require a living host or a living organism to grow. Whereas, bacteria can live anywhere. They can live in or on the human body. Their diversity permits them to live on or acquire any shape or feature. This is why many antibacterial medications fail to work on removing or eradicating bacterial infections. There are almost thousands of cases of drug-resistant bacteria. And this is no minor threat.


Now, a bacterial pandemic is a prime concern for Kim Lewis, a University Distinguished Professor of Biology and director of the Antimicrobial Discovery Center at the Northeastern University. He explains that this pandemic, although seeming devastating, is just a preview of the real epidemic. Vaccine for coronavirus will definitely be introduced soon, if not today. However, the cases of drug-resistant bacteria pose an entirely different threat. Since as a society, we are close and communicative, it makes us vulnerable to epidemics, Lewis explains. Citing the example of the Spanish flu of 1918, he corroborates his concern that 90% of the people who had caught the flu virus actually died by a secondary bacterial lung infection, aided by the absence of antibacterial medicines at that time.


COVID-19 has shown how vulnerable we are in catching a pandemic. And Lewis’ facts and conclusions direct us to work on the bacterial side. The threat of multidrug-resistant bacterial pathogens is extremely dangerous because Lewis believes that the number of casualties is nowhere a real epidemic which can happen with a bacterial epidemic.


Dibyasha Das