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The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the damage that an uncontrolled infectious disease can cause society. It’s something experts have been warning about for decades, yet society was unprepared.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria represent a similar risk. Starting with penicillin, antibiotics transformed the practice of medicine, making diseases like pneumonia curable and more complicated surgeries possible. But now an increasing number of bacteria are resistant to all the drugs available to treat them. Yet drug companies are not that interested in developing new antibiotics — largely because there has been little commercial incentive to do so. Some companies aiming to launch new antibiotics have even gone bankrupt.

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