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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Shrinking investment and a lack of innovation in the development of new antibiotics is "undermining efforts to combat drug-resistant infections," the World Health Organization warned on Friday, citing two of its new reports.

Why it matters: "Without government intervention, the United Nations estimates that resistant infections could kill 10 million people annually by 2050 and prompt an economic slowdown to rival the global financial crisis of 2008," the New York Times reports.

What's happening: It can take up to 10 years and north of $2 billion to develop a new antibiotic and commercialize it, the Times writes. Large pharmaceutical companies aren't producing as many antibiotics, and of those that are being developed, only a handful target the most dangerous drug-resistant infections.

  • Drug company executives, public health experts and patient advocates are insisting that Washington establish new programs and policies to attract the necessary funding to help struggling antibiotic companies and continue to attract drug company giants.
“Never has the threat of antimicrobial resistance been more immediate and the need for solutions more urgent. Numerous initiatives are underway to reduce resistance, but we also need countries and the pharmaceutical industry to step up and contribute with sustainable funding and innovative new medicines.”
WHO's Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Between the lines: "Unlike drugs that treat chronic conditions and are taken for years, antibiotics save lives, but are taken for just a week or two, diminishing their profitability for drugmakers," the NYT's Andrew Jacobs writes.

The other side: In WHO's report on possible novel therapies, 252 agents in development were identified to target 12 pathogens declared serious threats to humanity, including E. coli, salmonella and the bacteria that can cause gonorrhea.

Yes, but: Among 50 new antibiotics in clinical trials, only two are active against the most worrisome category of bugs, per the Times.

Go deeper: U.S. pushes global effort to fight antibiotic resistance at UN meeting

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Virginia attorney general fires Jan. 6 investigator from university post

McIntire Amphitheater at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia. Photo: Robert Knopes/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The lead investigator for the Jan. 6 House select committee investigating the Capitol riot has been fired from his position as the University of Virginia's counsel by the state's new Republican attorney general, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Democrats say the removal of Tim Heaphy from his post after some three years while he's on leave from the university to investigate the insurrection is likely "retribution" for the House probe — an accusation strongly denied by the office of state Attorney General Jason Miyares (R).

5 hours ago - World

Taiwan's military scrambles jets after detecting 39 Chinese warplanes

J-20 stealth fighter jets in Zhuhai in the Guangdong Province of China last year. Photo: Chen Jimin/China News Service via Getty Images

Taiwan's defense force said 39 Chinese warplanes flew into its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Sunday.

Why it matters: The largest Chinese air force incursion into the zone since October came a day after the U.S. and Japanese navies conducted a joint exercise in the Philippine Sea.

6 hours ago - Sports

Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance

Former Utah Jazz player John Stockton during a 2017 press conference in Salt Lake City. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Gonzaga University suspended the season tickets of notable alumni John Stockton after the NBA Hall of Famer failed to comply with the school's basketball games mask mandate, the Spokesman-Review first reported.

Driving the news: "Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit," the former Utah Jazz point guard told the outlet in an interview Saturday.