Covid-19 may be the “tip of the iceberg” this winter amid the issue of antibiotic-resistant infections, a charity has warned.

Antibiotic Research UK has said that the problem of antibiotic-resistant illnesses could be exacerbated in the winter as numbers of antibiotic prescriptions rise in the season.

This is in addition to fears of the impact of a second wave of Covid-19 and the increased spread of illnesses such as colds and flu during the colder months.

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Professor Colin Garner, the charity’s chief executive, warned of a “cocktail of illnesses” including colds and flu on top of the pandemic.

Antibiotic-resistant strains have been seen in some bugs which cause urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis, as well as bacterial pneumonia.

Public Health England previously estimated there were 61,000 antibiotic-resistant infections in 2018, equivalent to around 165 every day in England.

Antibiotic Research UK, which has its own science committee with members from universities and pharmaceutical companies, has urged the public to not share leftover antibiotics as well as getting a flu vaccination if possible.

Prof Garner added: “The deadliest condition could be antibiotic-resistant infections.

“Every wrongly prescribed or misused antibiotic could be creating a scenario where simple infections could lead to death and routine hospital operations cancelled, due to fear of infection.

“Medics must not buckle under pressure and should prescribe antibiotics wisely, patients must also stop demanding them for every illness.

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“Farmers could play their part by sensible usage with their livestock and Governments should incentivise pharmaceutical companies to do more.”

Last month it was announced that the NHS is offering two contracts to pay firms at the start of their work for access to innovative antibiotics, in the hope of bringing new classes of the drugs to patients across the UK for the first time in almost 30 years.

The Department of Health and Social Care said in June the payment model would be the world’s first “subscription-style” arrangement and could mean new drugs being available to patients as early as 2022.