There were almost 54,000 cases of severe infections in the UK that did not respond to antibiotics last year – an average of ” every day. The figure was up two per cent from the 52,800 the previous year but lower than the 62,000 recorded in 2019.
The UK Health Security Agency said cases of severe antibiotic resistant infections had fallen during the pandemic due to changes in how NHS services were delivered and social behaviour.
Use of the drugs has also fallen by 15 per cent since 2017, exceeding a government target to cut prescribing.
But the agency warned against complacency and encourages the use of antibiotics only as directed.
Doctor Susan Hopkins, UKHSA chief medical adviser, said: “We are already seeing resistance emerge to our newest antibiotics. Innovation to find new treatments will succeed only if we use what we have responsibly. Overuse of antibiotics will mean they stop working against life-threatening conditions.
“They won’t help the symptoms of cold, flu or Covid-19.
“Please trust your healthcare professional, take antibiotics only as prescribed, never share with others and do not save for later.”
Bacteria naturally develop resistance to antibiotics but overuse of the drugs accelerates the process, making infections more difficult to treat.
More than two-fifths of E.coli bloodstream infections are resistant to co-amoxiclav, a key antibiotic used in hospitals for serious infections.
Professor Dame Jenny Harries, UKHSA chief executive, said: “Antibiotic resistance is not a distant problem that we can ignore.
“Infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria are killing thousands of people every year as well as having a huge economic impact. This is a pivotal moment to maintain focus on the ‘silent pandemic’ of antibiotic resistance through our surveillance and stewardship activities.”