Locsin errs in antibiotics claim

Antibiotics can’t cure flu, contrary to Foreign Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr.’s recent tweet.

Locsin, reacting to a World Health Organization’s advisory on antimicrobial resistance, tweeted Nov. 20:

But erythromycin works against the flu though Zitromax really kills it with 3 doses; essential to have it in your kit when traveling or your trip to an important conference is a total waste if you get the flu. Are these asseverations true?

Zitromax is a brand name for Azithromycin, an antibiotic prescribed for chest, throat or nasal infections, ear infections, skin and soft tissue infections and some sexually transmitted diseases.

The WHO advisory Locsin quoted is part of a thread on World Antibiotic Awareness Week. It states that ciprofloxacin and erythromycin are medications under the “WATCH” category. These should be used less to prevent antimicrobial resistance, a condition where bacteria adapt to antimicrobial (such as antibiotic and antiviral) medications and become harder to treat.

According to WHO, Johns Hopkins Medicine and Mayo Clinic, antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, not viral infections like the flu. Medline Plus of the U.S. National Library of Medicine said:

For most viral infections, treatments can only help with symptoms while you wait for your immune system to fight off the virus. Antibiotics do not work for viral infections... Vaccines can help prevent you from getting many viral diseases.

Netizens have called out Locsin’s claim.



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Antibiotics. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/antibiotics/

Antibiotic resistance. (2018, February 5). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antibiotic-resistance

Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Antibiotics: Are you misusing them?. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/antibiotics/art-20045720

Steckelberg, J. M. (2017, September 7). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infectious-diseases/expert-answers/infectious-disease/faq-20058098

Viral infections. (n.d.). Retrievedfrom https://medlineplus.gov/viralinfections.html

WHO. (2019, November 18). The use of #antibiotics 💊 under the WATCH category - such as ciprofloxacin, erythromycin - should be dramatically reduced to avoid further development of #AntimicrobialResistance. They must be used sparingly. Full list of antibiotics under this category: http://bit.ly/WHOAWaRe [Tweet]. https://twitter.com/WHO/status/1197143077347119105

WHO. (2019, November 18). This week is World Antibiotic Awareness Week! The rise of #AntibioticResistance is a global threat. It can affect anyone, of any age, in any country 👶🏽👱🏻‍♀️🧔🏽👧🏻👨🏻‍🦰👵🏼👳🏾‍♂️👩🏻👦🏼👩🏽‍🦱 Proper use of antibiotics is key to #StopDrugResistance. The future of #antibiotics depends on all of us [Tweet]. https://twitter.com/WHO/status/1196212740236423170

Zitromax ®. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.pfizer.es/sobre_pfizer/medicamentos/zitromax.html

ZITROMAX 250MG CAPSULES. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/uk/zitromax-250mg-capsules-leaflet.html