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Antibiotic Resistance Working Party – Final Outputs (Report and Models)

The ABR working party’s report and associated models are now published.

Although ABR has been much publicised in recent years as a catastrophe in the making, the report finds that, for a developed country such as the UK, the impact of ABR is likely to be relatively minor.  Even in the extreme scenarios considered, ABR deaths would be almost negligible compared with major causes of death such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.  Broad comparisons shown in the paper demonstrate that (extreme future scenario) ABR deaths are also likely to be an order of magnitude lower than ADR (Adverse Drug Reaction) deaths or the 30,000 ‘excess’ deaths of 2015 that generated much comment, and are more likely to be of similar magnitude to HIV-related deaths.  The low impact of ABR in the UK is primarily due to the well-developed health infrastructure, in particular vaccination programmes and good general public hygiene / sanitation.

From an actuarial perspective, for those actuaries involved with protection business, there should be no material concern (partly because of policy lapsation, which would further negate the possible impact of ABR growth in the longer term); for pensions/annuities business, the effect on future mortality variations is likely to be immaterial compared with other known drivers of mortality variation. The ABR working party conclude that more work remains to be done on second-order impacts relating to the preventive use of antibiotics – for instance, the possibility of increased cancer mortality if antibiotics cannot be relied upon post-chemotherapy. 

The model developed by the Working Party (calibrated with UK data) allows actuaries to develop their own scenarios and explore the future mortality impacts of these.  It is hoped that actuaries in other countries will also find the model useful.