WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF)

Ever since antibiotics came out in the 1930s,  bacteria have adjusted and have become increasingly resistant to the drugs.

Medical professionals were making strides in that fight, but when COVID hit, they relied on antibiotics more heavily again.

And the battle against antibiotic-resistant bacteria lost a lot of ground.

Dr. C. Clark Milton, medical director of Corporate Health at WVU Medicine Wheeling Hospital, explained what happened.

He said when COVID hit, people were entering the hospital with pneumonia in both lungs and low oxygen levels.

They were placed on ventilators in ICU, and doctors prescribed antibiotics.

But since then, in Dr. Milton’s words, “the bugs got stronger than the drugs.”

“We had the perfect storm,” said Dr. Milton. “We had a novel virus in a population that had no immunity. We had multiple people coming in with pneumonia. We treated them with antibiotics. The CDC says 80% nationwide received antibiotics. So we were trying with what we knew at the beginning of the pandemic, but that pushed the antibiotic resistance of the bacteria even higher.”

Dr. Milton says now there are anti-viral drugs that are better against COVID, and doctors are back to what he calls antibiotic stewardship—using antibiotics only for patients who truly need them.

For instance, for a strep infection, but not for a cold.

He urges people not to press their doctor for antibiotics.

He says it will only make the microbes stronger.