US President Joe Biden will announce on Wednesday a $100 million research drive to fight deadly drug-resistant bacteria, according to a White House official.
More than a million people worldwide lose their lives each year due to infections resulting from bacteria resistant to antibiotics, according to the World Health Organization.
In the United States, that number is over 35,000 annually, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said. The problem is believed to have grown in recent years as more people with COVID-19 were hospitalized, where they were treated with antibiotics and exposed to infection.
Global health officials have repeatedly warned about the rise of antimicrobial-resistant microbes due to the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, which encourages microorganisms to evolve into “superbugs.”
There has long been an acute need for new antibiotics to combat these resistant bacteria, but there is little incentive among drugmakers as antibiotics are not especially profitable and overuse must be discouraged, keeping sales down.
The research will be driven by the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), a government research agency launched by Biden and Congress last year. The antimicrobial initiative will be their largest investment to date, the official said.
Biden plans to make the announcement during a meeting in San Francisco with the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The group includes academic experts as well as officials from Advanced Micro Devices, Microsoft and Google.
During the meeting, Biden also plans to discuss an executive order being drafted on artificial intelligence, which he plans to release this autumn, according to the official who declined to be identified.