Antimicrobial Resistance, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and Lessons for the Orthopaedic Community

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2021 Jan 6;103(1):4-9. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.20.01214.


Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is widely regarded as one of the most important global public health challenges of the twenty-first century. The overuse and the improper use of antibiotics in human medicine, food production, and the environment as a whole have unfortunately contributed to this issue. Many major international scientific, political, and social organizations have warned that the increase in AMR could cost the lives of millions of people if it is not addressed on a global scale. Although AMR is already a challenge in clinical practice today, it has taken on a new importance in the face of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. While improved handwashing techniques, social distancing, and other interventional measures may positively influence AMR, the widespread use of antibiotics to treat or prevent bacterial coinfections, especially in unconfirmed cases of COVID-19, may have unintended negative implications with respect to AMR. Although the exact number of bacterial coinfections and the rate at which patients with COVID-19 receive antibiotic therapy remain to be accurately determined, the pandemic has revived the discussion on antibiotic overuse and AMR. This article describes why the COVID-19 pandemic has increased our awareness of AMR and presents the immense global impact of AMR on society as a whole. Furthermore, an attempt is made to stress the importance of tackling AMR in the future and the role of the orthopaedic community in this worldwide effort.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial*
  • Global Health*
  • Humans
  • Orthopedics / organization & administration*
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Public Health*