After a fall at the start of the Covid pandemic, the consumption of antibiotics rebounded in France in 2021, and continued to recover in 2022 at a more sustained pace, particularly among children, health authorities announced on Monday. “If the consumption of antibiotics remains generally on a downward trend since 2012, it increased in 2022 at a more sustained rate than in 2021”, according to an annual study carried out by Public Health France (SPF) based on data on reimbursements made by Social Security. Antibiotic consumption increased by 14% in 2022, after rebounding by around 5% in 2021. “However, it remains at a level slightly lower than that observed in 2019”, before the Covid pandemic, specifies the study of SPF.

After a drop in the use of antibiotics in 2020, where strict anti-Covid measures (lockdowns, barrier gestures) had reduced the frequency of bacterial infections, “the years 2021 and 2022 were accompanied by a resumption of common winter infections, medical consultations and antibiotic prescriptions,” noted the agency in a press release released at the same time.

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“Significant” in children, the consumption of antibiotics in these young patients has even returned in 2022, or even exceeded, the pre-pandemic level. Among 5-14 year olds, it jumped by almost 42% over one year, to the 2019 level. Among 0-4 year olds, consumption was “higher than that of 2019”, detailed SPF.

Antibiotic resistance has worried global health authorities for years for its deadly consequences, and it is exacerbated by excessive or inappropriate consumption of these treatments. Reducing the consumption of antibiotics is an objective of health authorities, in France and in other countries, to slow down the appearance of resistant bacteria. “France is one of the European countries with the highest consumption of antibiotics,” recalled the general director of SPF, Caroline Semaille, quoted in a press release.

From December, SPF will rebroadcast a campaign on the proper use of antibiotics, reminding people that they are of no benefit against viral infections such as bronchiolitis or the flu.