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Spring 2022 - Safety

Curbing Disease Through Testing

Patrick M. SchmidtDURING THE past several years, the U.S. has seen significant increases in the rate of new infectious disease cases. For instance, since 2015, rates of new chlamydia infections have risen by 19 percent, gonorrhea by 56 percent, syphilis by 74 percent and hepatitis A infection by an unprecedented 1,325 percent, and rates of new hepatitis B and C infections are rising as well.1 This trend is alarming, especially as we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic and as the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surges, intensified by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But these infections and their associated treatment costs are preventable with vaccines, medications and, importantly, testing.

While there was obvious need to focus heavily on the manufacture of preventive vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 during the initial phases of the pandemic to minimize the human toll, this sole focal point has lent less credence to and awareness of the importance of testing. As we explain in our article “COVID-19 Testing: Vitally Important Despite Vaccines” (p.16), testing is crucial to give researchers the necessary firm data on how many people have contracted it, and they need to know how current (and likely future) variants spread and how many people have some natural immunity to the disease. But, as the number of people who are vaccinated continues to climb, convincing people to test for a current or past infection is easier said than done because the guided message has been to “get vaccinated” rather than “get tested,” leaving many to wonder why testing is necessary once they are vaccinated. Indeed, it remains a steep challenge to convince the nation this continued vigilance is needed as people grow weary of this seemingly never-ending era of COVID-19. Nonetheless, healthcare professionals must make the case to persuade people to get used to this new-normal way of protecting the public from this infectious disease.

A lesser-known consequence of COVID-19 is the accelerated rise in AMR, the result of a majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients receiving antibiotics even though only a small percentage of them had a bacterial coinfection. This recent misuse exacerbates the overuse of antibiotics in previous decades. In answer, our article “Advances in Diagnostic Testing for Antimicrobial Resistance” (p.20) discusses how AMR can be mitigated by testing to establish conclusively that an antibiotic is needed and the right treatment for the individual. As we explain, much can be determined by the type of bacteria and each individual’s gut microbiota. Nevertheless, many challenges must be overcome, but it is hoped that federal efforts will provide meaningful intervention.

As always, we hope you enjoy the additional articles in this issue of BioSupply Trends Quarterly, and find them both relevant and helpful to your practice.

Helping Healthcare Care,

Patrick M. Schmidt

Publisher

References

Severance-Medaris C. Curbing Rising Rates of Infectious Diseases. National Conference of State Legislatures, July 2021. Accessed at www.ncsl.org/research/health/curbing-rising-rates-of-infectious-diseases.aspx.

Patrick M. Schmidt
Patrick M. Schmidt is the publisher of BioSupply Trends Quarterly magazine.