The burden of bacterial antimicrobial resistance in the WHO European region in 2019: a cross-country systematic analysis



Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) represents one of the most crucial threats to public health and modern health care. Previous studies have identified challenges with estimating the magnitude of the problem and its downstream effect on human health and mortality. To our knowledge, this study presents the most comprehensive set of regional and country-level estimates of AMR burden in the WHO European region to date.


We estimated deaths and disability-adjusted life-years attributable to and associated with AMR for 23 bacterial pathogens and 88 pathogen–drug combinations for the WHO European region and its countries in 2019. Our methodological approach consisted of five broad components: the number of deaths in which infection had a role, the proportion of infectious deaths attributable to a given infectious syndrome, the proportion of infectious syndrome deaths attributable to a given pathogen, the percentage of a given pathogen resistant to an antimicrobial drug of interest, and the excess risk of mortality (or duration of an infection) associated with this resistance. These components were then used to estimate the disease burden by using two counterfactual scenarios: deaths attributable to AMR (considering an alternative scenario where infections with resistant pathogens are replaced with susceptible ones) and deaths associated with AMR (considering an alternative scenario where drug-resistant infections would not occur at all). Data were solicited from a wide array of international stakeholders; these included research hospitals, surveillance networks, and infection databases maintained by private laboratories and medical technology companies. We generated 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs) for final estimates as the 25th and 975th ordered values across 1000 posterior draws, and models were cross-validated for out-of-sample predictive validity.


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