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Antibiotics risk failing to protect us,
warns the Israeli Nobel prize Ada Yonath

By Pagine Ebraiche staff

“Resistance to antibiotics is one of the most severe problems in modern medicine”. The alarm was raised by the Nobel Prize Ada Yonath at ESOF2020, the biennial pan-European, general science conference that ended yesterday in Trieste at the presence of the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. The Israeli scientist, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009 for her work on the nature of ribosomes, called the attention on a problem less known by the general public but of great concern. Between 2010 and 2014, antibiotic resistance caused about 33 thousand deaths in Europe. Yonath emphasized the importance of support for scientific research seeking out new antibiotics, because of the threat of antibiotic resistance.
“We are racing toward a post antibiotic era, as it’s called by the WHO,” Yonath added. “It’s consequential that the World Bank estimated that up to 3.8% of the global economy will be lost just because of antibiotic resistance. It’s a huge loss.” Only a few new antibiotics are in development, she said. Most large drug companies have stopped endeavors to create new antibiotics.
“If companies don’t do it, and we need it, can we really combat resistance to antibiotics in full?” she said. “It’s unlikely because bacteria want to live and because bacteria are ‘cleverer’ than us, at least in terms of survival.”
Yonath’s was one of the most awaited events of the prestigious conference, in which the newsroom of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities participated. For five days, thousands of delegates from all over the world discussed current and future breakthroughs in contemporary sciences with the general public.
Many fascinating topics were covered: the race for a Covid 19 vaccine, the tragic toll from falsified and substandard medical products, quantum technologies, and the applications of AI in the creative industry.
The ways science can help us to advance were unthinkable, just twenty years ago. However, this progress must never cast a shadow on the deep relation that intertwines science and society. “Freedom for science, science for freedom”, was in fact the catchphrase of ESOF.
“Since the beginnings, we wanted to remark the importance for science of not having prejudices or aprioristic positions, and to be curious and open to the world”, explained Stefano Fantoni, ESOF2020 Champion. It is equally important, he said, for science to be free, inclusive and not consider ethnic or religious differences.
In its final day, ESOF relaunched the Human Declaration of Human Duties, created in 1993 in Trieste and supported by the Italian Nobel Prize Rita Levi Montalcini. The announcement was made today at ESOF 2020, during an event that featured Joanne Fox-Przeworski, a member of the Board of Directors, Environmental Integrity Project, Washington D.C., Sergio Paoletti, President of Area Science Park, and the American economist Jeffrey Sachs.
“Today we are at the dawn of the third millennium, and all the nations have responsibilities that should come before their rights. Only if we succeed in promulgating and disseminating the idea that these responsibilities are important, will we build a future for mankind”. These were the words that the Italian Jewish scientist Rita Levi Montalcini echoed many times, when she presented the Declaration of Human Duties.
Respect for human dignity and human life, avoidance of energy waste, and action against racial injustices are just some of the 12 key points listed in The Trieste Declaration of Human Duties, an ethical code that focuses on the need to share the responsibility to preserve human dignity, protect the environment, and maintain peace among populations.
I think this is the right time to disseminate the principles stated in 1933 again, with more emphasis,” maintained Sergio Paoletti, the President of Area Science Park, who is among the first supporters of the initiative. “The Trieste Declaration of Human Duties – he said – makes an appeal to share responsibilities, to raise awareness towards the duties we all have towards mankind and the world itself. And it’s extremely meaningful that the scientific community is launching this initiative. This is the road we have to take if we want to build a better future.”