By 2050, Superbugs Will Kill 10 Million People A Year

Gwynn Guilford | Quartz | December 23, 2014

A scourge is emerging across the rich and poor worlds alike, one that will claim 10 million lives a year by mid-century. Watch out for the “superbugs”—pathogens that even antibiotics can’t kill. Between now and 2050, this plague will claim 300 million lives and drain up to $100 trillion from the world’s GDP.

That’s according to a new report (pdf) on the emerging antimicrobial resistance (AMR) crisis by the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, a non-government advocacy group. Commissioned by British prime minister David Cameron in 2013, the project is led by Jim O’Neill, the former Goldman Sachs economist famed for coining the acronym “BRICs.”  AMR now kills 23,000 Americans (pdf, p.6) a year, and 25,000 in the EU (pdf, But data elsewhere is sparse. Worldwide, the Review puts the annual death toll at 700,000.

The report says the biggest killer will be malaria resistance, which as an article in Science notes, has already emerged in Southeast Asia. Nations like China and Brazil that have successfully eradicated malaria will likely see that effort unravel, hurting their export sectors...