Volume 552 Number 7684 pp147-278 14 December 2017
Deploy vaccines to fight superbugs
Immunizations combined with antibiotics could be our best shot at combating drug-resistant microbes, argue Rino Rappuoli, David E. Bloom and Steve Black.
Bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi that are resistant to drugs cause 700,000 deaths each year. By 2050, such ‘superbugs’, inured to treatments, could cause up to 10 million deaths annually and cost the global economy US$100 trillion1–2. If this happens, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) will be a bigger killer than cancer is now.
Antimicrobials alone won’t be able to mitigate the threat. The supply of naturally occurring antibiotics seems thin. And efforts to engineer new ones have floundered.
We think that vaccines could be a key way to stem the crisis. To launch a global strategic effort to prioritize their development, scientists, policymakers and key stakeholders need to see antibiotics and vaccines as complementary tools. Here we focus on antibiotic-resistant bacteria, for which the need for solutions is most urgent…