Denmark creates global research hub for antibiotics resistance

Denmark said Thursday it would create an international research centre focused on the fight against resistance to antibiotics, a scourge affecting almost half a million people worldwide.

Denmark creates global research hub for antibiotics resistance
File photo: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file/Ritzau Scanpix

Danish Health Minister Ellen Trane Nørby signed a memorandum of understanding in Seattle, in the United States, with the international network of research centres CGIAR, to establish the centre, her office told AFP.

Denmark aims to lead “future global work on finding new solutions for the serious challenges with antimicrobial resistance we are facing today,” Nørby said in a statement.

The International Centre for Interdisciplinary Solutions on AMR (Antimicrobial Resistance), financed by Denmark and private investors, will open in 2019 and is expected to employ up to 500 people.

In 2016, 490,000 people developed a resistance to antibiotics, according to figures from the World Health Organisation.

The growing problem causes 33,000 deaths in Europe each year, a recent study by the Stockholm-based European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said.

“The burden of these infections is comparable to that of influenza, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS combined,” the ECDC said.

Discovered in the 1920s, antibiotics have saved tens of millions of lives by defeating bacterial diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and meningitis.

But over the decades, bacteria have learned to fight back, building resistance to the same drugs that once reliably vanquished them.

The WHO has repeatedly warned the world is running out of effective antibiotics, and last year urged governments and big pharma companies to create a new generation of drugs to fight ultra-resistant supergerms.

Bacteria can become resistant when patients use antibiotics they do not need, or do not finish a course of treatment, giving the half-defeated bug a chance to recover and build immunity.

READ ALSO: Denmark presents plan to get kids eating healthier food


New Year’s Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark

The number of people treated for fireworks-related injuries on New Year's Eve in Denmark has bounced back to normal levels, with 16 people treated for eye injuries after the celebrations.

New Year's Eve injury rate bounces back to normal in Denmark
Fireworks led to 16 eye injuries on New Year's Eve. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

This is up from the unusually low 12 people who were treated for eye injuries during and after the celebrations last year. Two of this year’s injuries are sufficiently severe that the injured are expected to lose their sight completely or partially.

“After a very quiet evening last year, it is back to a normal, average level,” Ulrik Correll Christensen, head doctor at the ophthalmology department at Rigshospitalet, told the country’s Ritzau newswire. “It is a completely extraordinary situation at the eye departments on New Year’s Eve. It is not at all something we see on a daily basis.” 

Christensen has tallied up reports from all of Denmark’s eye units, including the major ones in Copenhagen, Aalborg, Aarhus, Odense and Næstved. 

He said that 15 out of the 16 cases had not worn safety goggles, two thirds were between ten and thirty years old. 

“The most important thing is to follow the advice when firing fireworks. Wear safety goggles and keep a good distance,” he said. 

The number of ambulance call outs on New Year’s Eve is also back to normal, with 1,188 emergency vehicles sent out, compared to 875 last year. 

In the Capital Region of Copenhagen, there were 44 call-outs were related to fireworks, of which 16 were for hand injuries and 14 for eye injuries.